Citizens of Falluja, the ISIL held city just 50 km from Baghdad are in severe danger as hostilities between the Iraqi army and so-called Islamic state forces rages on.
Operations to reclaim the city began last week, with the army supported by coalition airstrikes and Shia militias.
Reports say that at least 130 Iraqi soldiers have been killed by suicide bombers and IEDs since the siege began, but there is severe concern for the 50,000 civilians still trapped inside the city.
Fallujah: 532 families have escaped and assisted by
NRC_Norway</a>. But 50,000 civilians trapped in cross-fire inside. <a href="https://t.co/StpTsvrKEY">pic.twitter.com/StpTsvrKEY</a></p>— Jan Egeland (NRC_Egeland) May 30, 2016
Falluja’s 20,000 child inhabitants risk being recruited by so-called Islamic State in the fight to maintain control of the city, with reports saying that the fundamentalist group are already using human shields.
Children inside besieged Falluja face extreme violence https://t.co/KHq7wW4MvK via— UNICEF (@UNICEF) June 2, 2016
Reuters</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/UNICEFiraq">UNICEFiraq
Those lucky enough to escape the vicious regime also known as “Daesh” – for which the penalty is death under the group’s laws – are living in temporary refugee camps a mere 30 km away from the fighting.
From there many are transported by bus to safety in the Anbar province – a large swathe of Iraq of which Falluja is also a part.
For those who remain in the city, even liberation from ISIL’s oppressive clutches may provide little safety.
The predominantly Sunni population of Falluja fear that the Shia militias that are aiding the Iraqi army in the fight for control of the city may carry out revenge killings.
For now, ISIL remained well entrenched in Falluja behind well placed IEDs and continue to fight fiercely to maintain charge of the city.