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Save the Children warns of extreme danger to tens of thousands of children as Iraqi and coalition forces launch an offensive on ISIS stronghold of Hawija.

Friday, 22 September 2017 - 1:40pm

Aram Shakaram, Save the Children's Deputy Country Director in Iraq, said:

"Up to 30,000 children in Hawija are in extreme danger, and are being subjected to bombing and fighting as the offensive to oust ISIS from one of its last urban strongholds in Iraq begins.

“They have already suffered horribly under ISIS rule in the city. Food, water and medicine are running out, with many children reportedly weak and malnourished. Schools and hospitals have shut down. Now families face a terrible choice of staying put as fighting intensifies, or risking their lives to flee on foot for up to 12 hours through minefields and snipers, then wade across a river to reach safety. 

"With other routes cut off, it is imperative that all Iraqi and coalition forces open up safe escape routes for people and allow civilians to flee to wherever is safest. We also call on forces to avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas and do everything they can to protect innocent lives. Without this, far too many children will be caught in the crossfire.

"Save the Children has teams ready to support new arrivals with emergency aid and getting them back into school. We have been providing aid to children who have fled the city over the past year, including emergency blankets, psychological support, basic education and safe spaces for children."

For more information or to arrange interviews with spokespeople, please contact r.villar@savethechildren.org.uk or +442070126841