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'Catastrophic' water shortages for 500,000 in Mosul

Update: December, 01/2016 - 10:38
Internally displaced Iraqi children, who fled the ongoing figthing between Islamic State (IS) group jihadists and government forces around Mosul, fill a jerrican with water on November 28 at al-Khazer refugee camp. — AFP/VNA Photo
Viet Nam News

MOSUL, Iraq   Up to 500,000 civilians in Mosul are facing a "catastrophic" drinking water shortage, the UN warned, as Iraqi forces advance against the Islamic State group in the city.

Already suffering from a severe lack of food and electricity, civilians in Iraq’s second city are now also running out of drinkable water, said Lise Grande, UN humanitarian co-ordinator in Iraq.

"Nearly half a million civilians, already struggling to feed themselves day to day, are now without access to clean drinking water. The impact on children, women and families will be catastrophic," Grande said on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi troops and allied forces launched an offensive last month to retake Mosul, which was seized by IS more than two years ago.

Weeks of fighting have seen the Iraqi forces surround the city and break into its eastern neighbourhoods, where there have been heavy street-to-street battles with the jihadists.

Inside the city on Wednesday, AFP journalists heard loud explosions and heavy fighting as Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service special forces tried to mop up IS pockets and set their sights on the area of Al-Ikhae.

But CTS commanders said heavy clouds covering the city could hamper aerial surveillance and slow down operations in the coming two days.

A yellow suicide truck bomb, of the type frequently used by IS as a defensive tactic, stood smouldering near homes where CTS forces were deployed.

The battle for Mosul has destroyed a major water pipeline, the UN children’s agency UNICEF said, adding that the break was located in an inaccessible part of the city controlled by IS.

"Unless running water is restored in the next days, civilians will be forced to resort to unsafe water sources, exposing children to the risk of waterborne diseases such as severe diarrhoea and the threat of malnutrition," it said.

Residents in east Mosul say they have resorted to pumping water from wells.

"We don’t have water or electricity. We are drinking well water but that’s not enough," said Mosul resident Mohamed Khalil, 25.

"Water is the most important thing. We aren’t washing. We are going to catch lice and our homes are filthy," said Iman Baker, a 34-year-old mother of three who lives in an eastern neighbourhood recently retaken from IS.

Since the launch of the assault on October 17, more than 70,000 people have fled the fighting, but more than a million people are estimated to remain in the city, including around 600,000 in the eastern neighbourhoods.   AFP

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