As many as 50,000 Iraqis in the city of Fallujah face starvation and death as they are unable to leave the besieged city that is under the control of ISIL.
A senior UN official, Lise Grande, told Al Jazeera on Thursday that humanitarian conditions “have deteriorated in the last three months” and the city, 70km west of Baghdad, “could be facing a catastrophe”.
“We are deeply worried about the situation. There have been few medicine and … no re-supply of food in the last two or three months,” Grande said, citing sources in Iraq.
Last December, the government recaptured the nearby city of Ramadi from ISIL, a move which cut off supply routes to Fallujah used by Iraqi forces and ISIL, and also prevented civilians from leaving the besieged city.
Grande’s comments followed a plea by New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) urging the warring parties “to make sure that aid reaches the civilian population”.
The rights group said residents have reported as many as 140 people, many elderly and children, have died over the past few months because of a lack of food and medicine.
In one recent video that Baghdad-based activists provided to HRW, an unidentifiable woman said she is from Fallujah and that her children are dying because there is no rice, no flour – not even local dates – and the hospital has run out of baby food.
Reports have surfaced of people being forced to eat bread made from ground date seeds while drinking soup made from grass, HRW said. A sack of flour was being sold for $500 in Fallujah compared to $15 in the capital, Baghdad.
Several people, including one entire family, were also reportedly executed by ISIL fighters for trying to leave Fallujah. The armed group has jailed more than 100 men for protesting the execution of family members, HRW said.
Human Rights Watch’s Joe Stork said ISIL has shown “utter disregard for protecting civilians in conflict”, calling on the armed group to allow civilians to leave, while also urging government forces to open routes for humanitarian aid.
- Pray for residents in Fallujah and other besieged cities and towns around Iraq and Syria. Pray that food and medical aid will be delivered and reach those most in need.
- Pray for ISIL to soften their stance and allow people to leave Fallujah, and also release those who they have imprisoned.
- Pray for an end to the fighting in Iraq and Syria, and for the opportunity to rebuild the cities and towns that have been destroyed, along with the lives of millions affected by the conflicts in these countries.
- Pray for many to encounter Christ, even in the midst of desperation, and come to know His healing, hope and life.
Isaiah 45 vs 22: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.”