GENEVA – Displacement in Iraq may be about to worsen dramatically with the focus of military action turning towards retaking Mosul, the country’s second largest city, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said today.
The city in northern Iraq was captured by militants in June 2014, a time when it had an estimated population of 2.5 million people. Iraqi Government forces have turned their attention on the city since successfully retaking Falluja in late May.
“Mosul is Iraq’s second largest city, and the humanitarian impact of a military offensive there is expected to be enormous. Up to 1.2 million people could be affected,” UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards told a news briefing in Geneva on Tuesday (August 23).
Already, in recent months, some 213,000 people have fled their homes in different parts of Iraq. This includes 48,000 people from the Mosul area, 87,000 from the Falluja region, and 78,000 from Shirqat, Qayyara and surrounds.
UNHCR provides humanitarian support, including shelter, emergency relief kits and protection services, such as legal aid for displaced families. With the impending situation in Mosul, Edwards said the UN Refugee Agency is now expanding its efforts to be able to assist hundreds of thousands more people.
“UNHCR is doing what it can amid enormous challenges to build more camps to accommodate people and mitigate suffering, but additional land for camps and funding is still needed,” Edwards said.