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30 Jun, 2017 16:33

Children still trapped in Mosul in dire need of protection – UNICEF

Children still trapped in Mosul in dire need of protection – UNICEF

The devastation in western Mosul is extreme, the people have been damaged, says Peter Hawkins of the UNICEF mission in Iraq. The psycho-social care of children of the Iraqi city has to be our paramount concern, he added.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over Islamic State on Thursday saying the army recaptured the Grand al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul where ISIS declared a caliphate three years ago. Months of fierce fighting between the terrorists and the US-led coalition have devastated not only the city but also the lives of hundreds of thousands of locals.

UNICEF mission representative in Iraq, Peter Hawkins says it’s difficult to say at the moment how many lives were lost.

We still haven’t got full facts yet. Children are the innocent victims of any war. In this particular war, those children still trapped in western Mosul are in dire need of protection. And this is what we are calling for,” he told RT.

We said the same thing about Ramadi and the western part of Mosul is no different; the whole way of life has been taken away from the people, but the resilience of those people and especially those children in Ramadi. Educational services, schools started to open very quickly and started to offer a ray of hope for the people returning. In eastern Mosul, over 350 schools are now open. They started to open within 100 days of the conflict restarting there. It is possible, but the devastation of West Mosul is extreme, the people have been damaged, the psycho-social care of these children has to be our paramount concern,” Hawkins said.

What is the price of retaking Mosul?

Middle East analyst Adbo Haddad said the announcement from Iraq about the recapture of Mosul from ISIS is “good news for humanity.”  But what was the price of that victory, he adds.

What was the way leading to this victory? It takes us back to the day Mosul was invaded by ISIS; it was taken so easily by ISIS. Contrary to the way it is now liberated, a big price was paid by the civilians being hit time after time [from] the air by the coalition forces, without any understanding or any consideration of human life which leads to a point where we think that it is a pattern,” he told RT.

Since 2014 we have warned at the press conference in Moscow…of this pattern. That it is not so innocent. Let alone hitting several times by the coalition forces against the Iraqi National Army and Iraqi popular forces Hashd al Shaabi. It is not so innocent, the amounts of weaponry that were dropped always mistakenly into ISIS hands since 2015 until today. Three thousand civilians were killed between January and March 2017, and these numbers are acknowledged by the Congress, are acknowledged by the coalition forces committee that promised to do an investigation and to try to avoid such mistakes. Nothing has  been done until today,” Haddad added.

Political commentator and historian, Adel Darwish says the story has several dimensions.

They have recaptured Mosul, they have perhaps symbolically defeated ISIS as an entity, as a sort of colonialist movement that wanted to establish the caliphate. But there are more dimensions to the story – … the civilian casualties, which is totally unacceptable. The other dimension...has to do with the mishandling of the situation by the US and its allies and that Iraq now is in a civil war regardless of ISIS. ISIS is existing because of the civil war in Iraq,” he said.

According to Darwish, it was no secret for anyone that ISIS would “always hold civilians as human shields or as a bargaining chip,” and in his opinion, a strategy to minimize casualties among civilians had to be thought about in advance.

This is a classic American double standard there. If someone else does it, they say they are responsible…they don’t give a damn about civilians, when they do it, it is just an oversight, sorry, it is collateral damage,” he said.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.