Civilians trapped in Iraqi city of Falluja are starving

2016-05-27 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio)  Around 50,000 civilians trapped in the Iraqi city of Fallujah face starvation as government forces continue their assault to retake it from the so-called Islamic State militants. The grim assessment came from the Norwegian Refugee Council, an NGO that has been delivering aid to those civilians who managed to escape from the outlying areas of Fallujah before the assault commenced.  Nasr Muflahi, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s country director in Iraq, spoke to Susy Hodges about the “dire" situation facing Fallujah’s trapped civilians.

Listen to the interview with Nasr Muflahi of the Norweign Refugee Council:  

The UN says only around 800 people have been able to flee Fallujah since Iraqi government forces launched a major offensive to retake the city. So-called Islamic State militants who control the city have imposed a curfew and its residents have been forbidden from leaving their homes.  A proposal for humanitarian corridors to be established to allow aid to be delivered or for civilians to flee has not yet materialized.

"No food, no medicines and no clean water"

Muflahi said that according to the reports of those who managed to flee earlier, conditions for people inside Fallujah are desperate and they are reduced to eating rotten dates to survive. 

“They have no food, no medicines and no clean water.” People are finding stale or rotten dates, drying them in the sun and eating them. That’s how bad the situation has got.” Muflahi said, adding that the only water available is dirty and “tainted by dead animal carcasses.”

Cut off from the outside, the residents trapped in the city are fast running out of the bare essentials to survive. Muflahi estimated that a total of around 50,000 civilians remain inside Fallujah and pointed out that there are no “safe routes” for them to escape although some families have managed to flee by going through the pipes of “water drainage systems.”

He called on all parties to the armed conflict raging in and around Falluja to “respect humanitarian law” and “allow safe passage for civilians.”  

(from Vatican Radio)