UN migration agency reports surge in displacement from Mosul as fighting intensifies

28 February 2017

The United Nations migration agency today reported thousands of new arrivals at Iraqi sites for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) fleeing Mosul’s western sector where fighting is taking place between the Government forces and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) terrorists.

“The stories of the survivors are heart-breaking,” said Thomas Lothar Weiss, Iraq Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in a press release.

Since the start of Iraqi forces’ efforts to retake the city’s western section on 19 February, more than 10,000 people have been displaced in the zone, according to Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MoMD).

“We are very worried about the fate of the tens of thousands of families still trapped inside of West Mosul,” said Mr. Weiss.

IOM reported some 1,650 people arrived today at the Hamam al-Aleel facility, and nearly 2,800 arrived at Qayara air strip on Sunday night. Both these locations are in Nineweh Governorate southeast of Mosul.

MoMD estimates another 3,000 individuals are already moving towards the checkpoints and are expected to arrive tomorrow.

These numbers, among the largest in weeks, are just a fraction of the 250,000 or more people who could yet be displaced from western Mosul as fighting escalates, said IOM Iraq press officer Hala Jaber.

“There is serious concern for the 750,000 trapped in the densely populated western sector, with conditions worsening daily, according to reports and testimonies from those who have managed to escape,” she said.

RELATED: UN refugee agency focuses on sheltering displaced as Iraqi offensive moves to west Mosul

Those who arrived at the Qayara site yesterday, including children, spoke of seeing dead bodies on the streets as they escaped. Many corpses, they said, were ISIL fighters; others civilians killed by Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) laid by militants.

Families escaping with children are reportedly taping their mouths with duct tape to ensure they don’t cry or make a sound that would alert ISIL. Other families are giving their children sleeping pills or Valium to keep them quiet during their escape.

IOM’s Qayara site is currently providing shelter for 4,472 displaced families or 25,344 individuals, with a planned capacity to hold 10,000 families or 60,000 individuals. The Haj Ali emergency site is currently hosting 1,565 displaced families, or 6,994 individuals, with a planned capacity for 7,000 families, or 40,000 individuals.

 

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