Iraqi activists have spread footage showing refugees from Mosul being forced to live and sleep in ditches and trenches due to a lack of humanitarian care and provision by the Iraqi government and the international community.
Tens of families were filmed out in the Iraqi desert making do with these makeshift sleeping arrangements due to a lack of any other shelter. The refugees are at a high risk of suffering medical conditions relating to exposure, as winter in the Iraqi desert can be unforgiving.
The footage, from a Syrian Kurdish news source close to PYD militants called ANHR, was from near the Iraqi-Syrian border. ANHR cited a refugee as saying “we are digging graves for ourselves.”
Another refugee, Yousef Ali, said: “I have seven children. I had to dig this hole, but this did not work to protect us from severe weather conditions and prevent…disease.”
“The leaders of Arab states should be ashamed of themselves,” Ali said, blaming Iraq’s neighbours for failing to act to protect them.
Some of the refugees were fortunate enough to have materials and tarpaulins to stretch over their dugout shelters, usually measuring about two metres wide.
The conditions these refugees have found themselves in highlights the appalling risks faced by civilians caught between Daesh and the Iraqi government as they battle over control of Mosul.
The United Nations have said that potentially one million people may become displaced and will need urgent care. If this comes to pass, the UN has said that it would need to launch what it has described as the world’s largest humanitarian operation in order to provide for them.
Tens of thousands of people have already been displaced since Baghdad launched its operation to recapture Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and Daesh’s last major urban stronghold in Iraq.