MOSUL/BAGHDAD, Iraq: Fighting between Iraqi troops and Islamic State militants has cut water supplies across a large part of Mosul, where poorer families are already struggling to feed themselves, and a local official said the increasingly encircled city was in crisis.
Water was cut to 650,000 people – or 40 percent of residents – when a pipeline was hit during fighting between the jihadists and U.S.-backed Iraqi government forces trying to crush them in their northern Iraq stronghold, a local official said.
“We are facing a humanitarian catastrophe,” said Hussam al-Abar, a member of Mosul’s Nineveh provincial council, adding that 1.5 million people were still inside Mosul. He said the pipeline ran through a contested part of the city and could not be reached by repair teams.
“Basic services such as water, electricity, health, food are non-existent,” he said, standing in an eastern suburb while mortars were fired inside the city.
The battle for Mosul has already raged for six weeks. Alliances of Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led air power, have surrounded it and elite troops have seized eastern districts, but face deadly and determined resistance.
Aid workers say a full siege is developing and fear that the longer the conflict drags on, the more civilians will suffer.
“Key informants are telling us that poor families are struggling to put sufficient food on their tables,” U.N Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Lise Grande, told Reuters. “This is very worrying.”
Others are hoarding and hiding food as they expect prices to rise further.