“Don’t forget children of Mosul” says actor Ewan McGregor after 100 days of fighting
24 Jan 2017 - 21:38
Thomson Reuters Foundation
LONDON: Scottish actor Ewan McGregor appealed on Tuesday for help for children in Mosul in northern Iraq, 100 days after the start of an offensive to retake the city from Islamic State, saying the situation grew worse daily.
Iraqi forces launched a campaign on Oct. 17 to retake Mosul from the hardline Sunni group, which captured the city in 2014.
The United Nations said on Tuesday it was “racing against the clock” to prepare emergency aid for hundreds of thousands of endangered civilians in Mosul with an Iraqi army offensive looming to retake the western half of the city.
“Children are easily forgotten in war and conflict, and it is our responsibility to make sure they are not,” said the 45-year-old ambassador for the U.N.’s children’s agency UNICEF.
“Those in Mosul need our help now more than ever,” said McGregor, who stars in the newly released sequel to the cult film Trainspotting.
The actor said he began to understand how devastating the conflict had been after visiting camps hosting tens of thousands displaced Iraqis last year.
“Now there are many more camps for thousands more families seeking safety and protection - and the numbers rise daily,” he wrote in the British newspaper Metro.
The battle for Mosul, involving 100,000 Iraqi troops, members of the Kurdish security forces and Shi’ite militiamen, is the biggest ground operation in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.
More than 160,000 civilians have been displaced since the start of the offensive, U.N. officials say. Medical and humanitarian agencies estimate the total number of dead and wounded - both civilian and military - at several thousand.
Iraqi officials said on Monday government forces had taken complete control of eastern Mosul and were preparing to retake the west side of the city.
Around 40,000 students - most of whom have been kept at home by their parents since the militants captured the city in 2014 - will attend around 70 schools in east Mosul in the coming weeks after the buildings have been checked for unexploded bombs.
(Reporting by Magdalena Mis @magdalenamis1,; Editing by Ros Russell)