Mosul civilians could be at risk of being used as human shields, UN fears

Up to 1.5 million people in Mosul could be at great risk of being targeted, caught in cross-fire, forcibly expelled or used as human shields during the operation to oust Islamic State extremists from the northern Iraqi city, the UN's humanitarian chief has said.

Stephen O'Brien said the protection of the elderly, disabled and pregnant women who may not be able to move to safety without assistance cause the greatest concern based on previous evidence of IS practices.

He told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that no large-scale displacement of civilians has been reported on the third day of the Iraqi government-led operation.

But Mr O'Brien said the UN anticipates "a displacement wave of some 200,000 people over the coming weeks, with up to one million displaced in the course of the operation in a worst-case scenario".

Of that one million, the UN believes 700,000 would require shelter and emergency assistance, he said.

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