The population of Mosul has endured huge suffering in the war to retake the northern Iraqi city from Daesh. The trauma cases among civilians are sharply rising in the last stages of the battle, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said on Wednesday.
The city's basic infrastructure has also been hard hit, with six western districts almost completely destroyed and initial repairs expected to cost more than $1 billion, the UN said.
Tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped among the shattered buildings in Daesh’s final redoubt in Mosul's Old City by the western bank of the Tigris river, MSF said.
Civilians who have managed to get medical treatment are suffering from burns and shrapnel and blast injuries, while many are in need of critical care and are undernourished, MSF officials said.
But there is concern that only a small number of the civilians were getting the medical attention they required.
— MSF Iraq (@MSF_Iraq) July 6, 2017
"Really, (there is) a huge level of human suffering," Jonathan Henry, MSF emergency coordinator in west Mosul, told reporters in Geneva after spending six weeks in Iraq.
Iraqi commanders have predicted final victory in Mosul this week after a grinding eight-month assault that has pushed Daesh into a rectangle no more than 300 by 500 metres in the city whose population used to be two million.
"The west (of the city) has been heavily destroyed. It's really mass destruction ... similar to the blitz of the Second World War, hospitals have been destroyed, neighbourhoods are in ruins," said Henry.
Half of the 100 war-wounded over the past two weeks at the MSF 25-bed hospital were women and children in need of critical care and many were malnourished, he said.
About 900,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, taking shelter in camps or with relatives and friends, according to the aid group.
Up to 20,000 civilians trapped
A senior UN official said up to 20,000 civilians are trapped in Mosul's Old City, which Iraqi forces are battling to retake.
— UNHCR Iraq (@UNHCRIraq) July 5, 2017
The fighting against the last Daesh holdouts is heavy, and civilians caught in the middle of the battle are in "extreme danger," UN humanitarian coordinator in Iraq Lise Grande said.
"Our estimate at this stage is that in the final pockets of the Old City, there could be as many as 15,000 civilians, possibly even as high as 20,000. They're in extreme danger from bombardment, from artillery crossfire. The Daesh fighters that are still there are still directly targeting civilians if they try and leave."
Daesh overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes and other support have since regained much of the ground they lost.