Following the Iraqi Government’s declaration that its forces had liberated the northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has paid tribute to the country’s people and government and vowed UN support to aid displaced communities and restore rule of law in the freed areas.
“The recovery of Mosul is a significant step in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism,” the Secretary-General said in a statement attributable to his spokesperson.
Guterres said the UN would stand by the government as it created the conditions for “voluntary, safe and dignified return” of the displaced communities, as well as to restore the rule of law, prevent a return to violence and foster accountability for all violations.
In the statement, he also lauded the “courage, determination and perseverance” of the people and government, and added condolences for the loss of lives and wishes for those injured.
Since the military campaign to retake Mosul began on October 17, 2016, some 920 000 civilians have fled their homes, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.
“It’s a relief to know that the military campaign in Mosul is ending. The fighting may be over, but the humanitarian crisis is not,” said the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande.
Close to 700 000 people are still displaced, nearly half of whom are living in 19 emergency camps, she explained.
They need shelter, food, health care, water, sanitation and emergency kits.
“The levels of trauma we are seeing are some of the highest anywhere. What people have experienced is nearly unimaginable,” said Grande.
She said aid workers “have been working around the clock” and that “enormous efforts” have been made by the government and partners, but that there is “a lot to do in the weeks and months ahead.”
The UN has called for $985 million to aid humanitarian projects.
So far, about 43% has been received, leaving a gap of $562 million.