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Calls for children and families to be freed from Fallujah

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Food supplies and medicine is running out, leaving sick children and the elderly at particular risk.

Save the Children is increasingly concerned about the fate of up to 50,000 civilians prevented from escaping the new military offensive around the besieged Iraqi city of Fallujah, and calls for safe routes to be urgently established to allow children and their families to flee.

Fierce fighting is now raging around the city, which has been completely under siege for almost five months. Military checkpoints and IEDs planted along the roads by armed groups have stopped most civilians from fleeing and supply routes into the city have been completely cut off since January, with no aid allowed to enter.

Markets have exhausted food supplies and medicine is running out, leaving sick children and the elderly at particular risk. Thousands of children are suffering from a lack of milk, with the price of a single can of infant milk rising up to £35 at times during the siege.

The price of other staple foods, and fuel, has also skyrocketed - data gathered by Save the Children in March, after two months of siege, found that potatoes and sugar cost between ten to fifteen times more than normal. Children and parents have reported having no other choice but to eat soup made from grass or a handful of seeds.

Save the Children has received reports that up to 700 people, including 400 children, have managed to escape as of 24 May. However, many thousands more remain trapped inside.

“Food and supplies are not allowed in, and people are not allowed out. The town has been under complete siege for months and conditions inside are believed to be getting worse by the hour,” said Maurizio Crivellaro, Save the Children’s Country Director in Iraq.

“Now, as military operations intensify even further, it is literally a matter of life and death that children and their families are able to get out safely. All parties to this conflict must ensure safe routes for civilians, and authorities must ensure that children fleeing with their families are provided with the protection they need.”