UNICEF leads convoy into Iraq's Mosul with emergency supplies

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/11/16 9:14:41

A multi-agency humanitarian convoy led by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) was on Sunday the first to enter the Iraqi city of Mosul together with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UNICEF said in a press release issued here Tuesday.

"UNICEF has entered Mosul city for the first time in over two years," UNICEF Iraq Deputy Representative Hamida Ramadhani said in the press release. "Our teams are moving quickly to provide immediate support to communities affected by the fighting."

A 14-vehicle convoy including eight cargo trucks filled with aid, arrived in the Gogachly neighborhood in eastern Mosul at around 9:30 (local time) in the morning.

The trucks were filled with enough emergency supplies to last 15,000 children and their families -- a total of 30,000 people -- for a month.

Supplies included 5,000 kits of water purification tablets, high energy biscuits, jerry cans, buckets, hygiene items such as soap, toothpaste and baby supplies, including diapers.

The distribution was completed in six hours despite nearby artillery fire and explosions that sounded almost constantly during the day.

More than 27,000 children and their families, totalling 56,000 people have been displaced to date from in and around Mosul since Oct.17 -- and up to 1.5 million remain trapped inside the city, 600,000 of them children.

UNICEF has reached more than 30,000 children with needed assistance in re-taken communities including in eastern Mosul City since Oct. 17.

On Oct.17, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, announced the start of a major offensive to retake Mosul, the country's second largest city, in a bid to liberate the northern Iraqi city, the last major Islamic State (IS) stronghold in Iraq.

So far, the Iraqi security forces have inched to the eastern fringes of Mosul, and made progress on other routes around the city preparing for the major battle to storm the city and drive out the IS militants.

Mosul, some 400 kilometers north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has been under IS control since June 2014, when Iraqi government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq's northern and western regions.

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