3rd Place, Ivor Prickett, Ireland
Caught in the Crossfire
As the fight for Mosul enters its fourth month, thousands of civilians remain caught between Iraqi and coalition forces on one side, and Islamic State group fighters on the other.
Over 800,000 people are still trapped in Mosul, according to estimates from the United Nations. Tens of thousands are sheltering in neighborhoods declared liberated by Iraqi forces and many more remain in parts of the city under ISIS control. Humanitarian organisations continue to fear mass displacement and civilian casualties.
Many have already made the harrowing decision to flee their homes, in some cases leaving behind the bodies of loved ones who died as the fighting came to their area and had to be buried in front gardens.
The majority of the more than 130,000 people who have fled are still living in temporary camps in Iraq’s Kurdish region. Some say they are waiting for the security situation to improve, others are waiting for their homes to be rebuilt. Although well organised and supported by international organisations, the camps are isolated and winter weather has made life there very difficult for people who already endured two years of harsh rule under ISIS.
While other areas of the country were largely devoid of civilians when they were finally wrested from ISIS control, the battle for Mosul is different because so many people have been told to remain inside. As a result, progress has been slow and civilian casualties, although lower than expected, are still mounting.