Press release

Patel: Protection and wellbeing of civilians in Mosul a top priority

Secretary of State reiterates the UK’s support for civilians affected by the start of military operations in Iraq

International Development Secretary Priti Patel has reiterated the UK’s strong support for civilians affected by the start of military operations in Iraq in a telephone call with Stephen O’Brien, the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

Last month, the UK announced £40 million in new funding to help put in place essential humanitarian support ahead of military operations reaching Mosul.

During the call, they welcomed the Government of Iraq’s commitment to the protection of civilians during operations.

In addition, they reviewed steps already taken to prepare supplies and support in advance to ensure assistance could reach those in need, particularly if large numbers of people are displaced from Mosul as a result of the fighting.

Following the call, Secretary of State Priti Patel, said:

Retaking Mosul will be an important step towards defeating Daesh in Iraq and ending its tyranny over the civilian population in the city. However, with up to one and half million people still living in the city, it is clear that their protection and wellbeing must be a paramount concern.

As I discussed with Mr O’Brien, we urge all parties in this conflict to ensure aid agencies get the access and support they need and that international humanitarian law is upheld. The Government of Iraq, international community and aid agencies must work closely together to coordinate their plans.

I made clear that we will also continue to call on other donors to follow Britain’s significant lead and ensure sufficient funding to meet the expected scale of humanitarian need.

They also discussed a number of pressing humanitarian issues, including the response to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and the crises in Yemen and Syria.

The UK has led calls for the international community to step up with additional funding and to ensure that the humanitarian response is coherent and joined up. The International Development Secretary highlighted the possible impact of military operations and urged the international community to follow Britain’s lead in preparing for the humanitarian response, including during meetings at the UN General Assembly.

The UK has already committed £169.5 million since summer 2014 to help those affected by Daesh in Iraq. The UK is the largest contributor to the Iraq Humanitarian Pooled Fund and one of the earliest and largest contributors to the UN’s flash appeal for Mosul, launched in July 2016.