More than 56,000 people have fled Mosul and surrounding areas, where military operations began to retake the embattled Iraqi city from the Islamic State (IS) militants began a month ago, a monitoring organisation said. The exodus from Mosul has doubled over the past two weeks from 22,224 on 4 November, to 56,412 on Monday, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday.
IOM is readying for much larger numbers of displaced people as Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces battle their way into Mosul and aim to recapture the strategic town of Tel Afar, cutting IS’s supply lines from Syria. East of Mosul, IOM is building an emergency site at Qayara Airstrip and where it has erected a camp with 3,000 tents and is building a camp with a further 1,000 tents in nearby Haj Ali which was recently retaken from IS.
IOM said it is working with the Iraq government’s ministry of migration and displacement to identify further locations for refugee camps, to develop these sites, also to provide refugees with longer-term help. “Through IOM’s emergency response, as well as assistance for those displaced longer term, we aim to provide support to improve conditions for those who have suffered so greatly,” said IOM Iraq’s chief Thomas Weiss.
Besides shelter, IOM is providing winter non- food relief kits including blankets, heaters and carpets to refugee families in Haj Ali, many of whom had to leave everything behind when they fled from battle zones. Health and psychosocial assistance is also being offered to refugees, IOM said.
Meanwhile, the United Nations World Food Programme has said it is ‘very concerned’ about the food security of people trapped inside Mosul, especially children. WFP has distributed food aid to some 100,000 people who fled the fighting between IS and Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and around in the city. Thousands of families remain in need of urgent care and food assistance, according to WFP.
WFP has enough rations in the Mosul area to provide food for 2.1 million people for three days, and half a million family rations, which could feed 2.5 million people for one month, the UN said on Monday.