BAGHDAD/MOSUL: A full siege is developing in Mosul as poor families struggle to feed themselves after prices rose sharply following the US-backed offensive on the Daesh-held city in northern Iraq, humanitarian workers said on Tuesday.
Some of the poorest families are finding it hard to feed themselves while others are hoarding and hiding food as they expect prices to rise further as the battle that started six weeks ago takes hold of the city.
“Key informants are telling us that poor families are struggling to put sufficient food on their tables,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Lise Grande said.
“This is very worrying.”
Iraqi government and Kurdish forces surround the city from the north, east and south, while Popular Mobilisation forces — a coalition of Iranian-backed Shi’ite groups — are trying to close in from the west.
Retail prices rose sharply last week, after Popular Mobilisation fighters cut the supply route to Mosul from the Syrian half of the self-styled caliphate, declared by Daesh two years ago over Sunni-populated parts of Iraq and Syria.
More than a million people are still believed to live in parts of Mosul under the control of the Daesh fighters, who seized the largest city in northern Iraq as part of a lightning advance across a third of the country in 2014.
With the last supply route cut off, basic commodity prices in Mosul could double “in the short term”, said a humanitarian worker, who declined to be identified.
Water supplies have been cut off to around 650,000 residents in the Iraqi city of Mosul after a pipeline was hit during fighting between the army and Daesh, a local official said on Tuesday. “The maintenance team cannot reach the pipeline because it lies in an area being fought over,” Hussam Al Abar, a member of Mosul’s Nineveh provincial council, told Reuters in one of the 15 districts and suburbs of the city where water was cut off.
“We are facing a humanitarian catastrophe.”
“In a worst case, we envision that families who are already in trouble in Mosul will find themselves in even more acute need.” Grande said.
“The longer it takes to liberate Mosul, the harder conditions become for families.”
Daesh arrested on Sunday about 30 shop owners accused of raising food prices in the city, to try to suppress discontent, witnesses said on Monday.
The group is relentlessly cracking down on people who could help the offensive in Iraq.
Most of the people executed previously in Mosul were former police and army officers, suspected of disloyalty or plotting rebellions against the militants’ harsh rule.