Children and the Liberation of Mosul October 2016

Thank you for contacting me recently regarding the operation to liberate the city of Mosul.

As you will be aware, the Prime Minister of Iraq announced on 17 October 2016 that the planned military campaign to expel Daesh from Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, has commenced. Daesh has imposed sectarian and inhuman terror on Iraq and, at the Iraqi Government's request, the UK has been engaged in coalition operations against the group since September 2014. Two years on, Daesh now occupy less than 10 percent of Iraqi territory.

I appreciate that concerns have been raised about the potential humanitarian impact that these operations may have on the local civilian population, particularly children, and I can assure you I take these concerns seriously. Indeed, the UN has expressed deep concern about the humanitarian consequences of the operation and has estimated that around 200,000 people could flee Mosul within the first two weeks of the offensive.

I understand that the Foreign Secretary met with his Iraqi counterpart in London in September to discuss the military, humanitarian and stabilisation planning for the operations. I am also aware that the Government announced £40 million of humanitarian funding for Iraq on 21 September 2016, and has said that this will be targeted "specifically to enable a scale up of humanitarian assistance ahead of Mosul operations."

It is, of course, vital that these operations are undertaken in a way that minimises the humanitarian impact and civilian casualties. I hope the Government will continue to press the Iraqi authorities to ensure people fleeing Mosul are protected and that any security screening of individuals is done so in a transparent manner and independently monitored. I can assure you that I intend to follow the progress of this operation, and the humanitarian consequences of it, very closely.

Thank you again for taking the time to make me aware of your views on this issue.