We got some hard news from Iraq this week, when ISIS blew up one of the most important places of worship in Mosul, the al-Nuri mosque. Our friends in Mosul loved this place. It stood for nearly 800 years. But when Iraqi forces gave ISIS an ultimatum—surrender or be destroyed—they destroyed the mosque instead.
The battle for Mosul has reached a critical stage. The Old City is ISIS’s last stronghold here, but it’s also one of the most densely populated parts of Mosul. More than 100,000+ people are believed to be trapped inside. The fighting here is intense.
We don’t know what will happen next. Iraqi forces hope to finish the battle for Mosul in the coming days, but it’s taken nine months for them to reach this point—far longer than anyone anticipated.
We don’t know what will happen to the families still trapped in ISIS-held neighborhoods. Our hearts were in our throats when we saw the al-Nuri mosque collapse—not just for the loss of another priceless landmark, but for those who may have been trapped inside at the time as human shields.
The only thing standing between ISIS and total defeat in Mosul right now are 100,000+ innocent children, women, and men—and ISIS is not afraid to sacrifice them in this suicide mission.
So we don’t know what the days ahead will bring. But here’s what we do know: it doesn’t change anything about our response.
It doesn’t change our commitment to the people of Mosul. It doesn’t change our strategy of going to the frontlines to meet families with food, water, and medical care, instead of waiting for them to come to us.
As the al-Nuri mosque fell, we were already staging food for thousands of families in Mosul’s Old City—and today, we began delivering that food, a few hundred hard from the active fighting. Many of the families you reached today are newly displaced from the Old City, just streets away. They’ve already been driven from their homes—but they do not want to be displaced and further. They don’t want to surrender their sovereignty to end up in a refugee camp miles from home, miles from everything they know and love.
So today, we came to them. You helped provide food packages for 1,100 families today. You distributed five tankers of water. No one is reaching families as close to the frontlines as you are.
We’ll keep pressing in—further into the Old City, as the last ISIS stronghold in Mosul is finally liberated. But we need you to go with us.
So far, you’ve provided food for approximately 238,000 people in and around Mosul—but the need in the Old City is more desperate than anything we’ve seen so far. We’ve heard reports of families eating pages from coloring books in order to survive. There are more families trapped in the Old City than we currently have food for.
The only way we can continue showing up for the people of Mosul is if you show up with us, and give Mosul families what they need to survive today and rebuild for many, many tomorrows.