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Mosul: The situation in Iraq’s second biggest city explained

Rayan*, 6, and her family have been in constant fear the past two years until they fled. You can help protect children like Rayan.

Email your MP now to protect children

Where is Mosul and what’s the situation there?

Mosul is the second biggest city in Iraq. Since June 2014 it has been under the control of the Islamic State (IS) group.

That means people in Mosul, half of whom are children, have been living under IS rule for two years.

Parents of children who have escaped have told us that girls were not allowed to go to school, and boys were taught how to make bombs and “cut heads off”.

And what’s happening now?

Iraqi and Kurdish forces, backed by a US-led international coalition which includes Britain, are attempting to retake the city.

They’re doing this by conducting an assault on the city, which involves sudden attacks on heavily populated areas.

Children are in grave danger. It’s possible that this could develop into the biggest humanitarian crisis this year, with around 600,000 children at risk.

Front line medics are telling us that a dozen children a day are being injured in Mosul.

One said a girl around the age of nine turned up on her own with burns over her entire body. She said that her family had been hit by the bomb and she’d watched her brother die.

Email your MP now – ask them to keep children safe.

What does this mean for children and their families?

They have two choices – stay or flee.

If they stay, they risk getting caught in crossfire and airstrikes.

If they flee, they face being killed by landmines, captured or shot by IS fighters.

Military commanders have asked vulnerable families and children to stay inside and put white flags on their homes. This is impractical at best. At worst, it means families could be used as human shields.

We are already working to provide aid and education to children and families fleeing Mosul.

What is Save the Children is calling for?

We’re calling on our Government to use its influence to ensure everything is done to protect children caught up in this offensive.

For those fleeing the offensive, this means immediately identifying and maintaining safe routes for children and their families to reach safety.

For those who are staying in the city, this includes taking all precautions to ensure they are protected from bombing, minimising the casualties and protecting civilian infrastructure – in particular schools and hospitals.

If they do manage to escape Mosul, then what?

For those who make it out alive, they will have to face security screening by Iraqi and Kurdish forces – which at times can lead to the separation of vulnerable young children from their families, putting them at risk of violence and abuse.

We need Iraqi and Kurdish forces to get the balance between security and child protection right. This means following international standards and to make sure they do not separate families or put children at risk of danger.

How can I help?

Please email your MP and ask them to write to Mike Penning, Armed Forces minister, asking him to use his influence to ensure our allies do all they can to protect children in the offensive.

As a member of the international coalition and an ally of the Iraqi Government, the UK is well positioned to ensure that children and their families are protected.

We have a real opportunity right now to protect children.

Please email your MP now.

Email your MP now.

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