NEW YORK, 17th October, 2016 (WAM) — UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien said on Monday he was extremely concerned for the safety of up to 1.5 million people living in Mosul who may be impacted by military operations to retake the city from Daesh.

”Families are at extreme risk of being caught in cross-fire or targeted by snipers. Tens of thousands of Iraqi girls, boys, women and men may be under siege or held as human shields,” UN Emergency Relief Coordination Stephen O’Brien said in a statement.

“As many as one million people may be forced to flee their homes in a worst-case scenario,” he added.

Underscoring that nothing is more important than ensuring the protection of civilians and their access to assistance, he also called on all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and to ensure the protection of civilians.

In particular, he emphasized that children, women, the elderly and disabled will be specifically vulnerable.

Mr. O’Brien, who is also the head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), further highlighted that humanitarian actors will be doing “everything possible” to support the people who may be affected by the military operation.

According to the statement, shelter is currently available for 60,000 people in camps and emergency sites and construction of additional sites, with capacity for 250,000 people, is underway.

WAM/tfaham