Hundreds of thousands flee Mosul fighting

About 283,000 Iraqis have been displaced from Iraq's second largest city since the military operation began in October last year. The UN's refugee agency expects 40,000 more people to flee Mosul in the next 48 hours.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

UNHCR says the rate of displacement continues at 20,000 individuals per day.

Over 280,000 Iraqis have been displaced from Mosul since the military operation to reclaim it from Daesh began in October last year, the UN's refugee agency said on Thursday.  

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that 283,000 civilians have been displaced by the fighting in Iraq's second largest city, with over 57,000 added since the latest operations in western Mosul started on February 19.

"The newest arrivals are in a desperate condition, visibly traumatised, hungry and dehydrated," the UNHCR said.  

Many arrived without shoes and wearing soaking clothes, having walked long distances to reach safety at government checkpoints  –  UNHCR 

The 100,000-strong US-backed Iraqi security forces fully captured the eastern half of Mosul in January. The coalition began an operation to cross the Tigris and take the western half last month.

The UN agency said that the latest wave of displaced Iraqis faced food shortages. It added that intense fighting in the west of the city forced them to risk everything to seek safety.

Iraqi forces expect some 40,000 more people to flee Mosul in the next 48 hours, the report stated.  

"If the rate of displacement continues at 20,000 individuals per day, currently operational camps in the south, east and the north of Mosul could be full by early next week," the UN refugee agency said.

Mosul's population has changed radically in the years of war. It was near 2 million at the time of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Ahead of last month's offensive, aid agencies estimated that the civilian population of western Mosul to be 750,000.

UN probe on Daesh atrocities

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has urged Iraq to agree to a UN probe of atrocities committed by Daesh.

Clooney, who spoke to Yazidi survivor Nadia Murad, was addressing UN member-states on Thursday to appeal for action against Daesh.

"Why is it that nothing has been done?" Clooney told the gathering. "Mass graves lie unprotected and unexhumed. Witnesses are fleeing and not one ISIS militant [Daesh] has faced trial for international crimes anywhere in the world."

Murad, who also spoke at the UN, urged the Iraqi government and the UN to establish a probe, "and give all victims of ISIS [Daesh] the justice they deserve."

Yazidi survivor Nadia Murad (L) and Amal Clooney say the probe against Daesh is crucial.

The Lebanese-British lawyer said a British-drafted resolution setting up the investigation was ready to be submitted to the Security Council, but that Iraq had yet to give its approval for the measure.

Clooney called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi to "send the letter to the Security Council requesting the investigation into ISIS [Daesh] crimes."

Iraq's Ambassador Mohamed Alhakim said that his government was committed to ensuring justice and that Iraqi courts had received 500 cases involving Daesh crimes.

After the Mosul operation, Alhakim said that the next step would be ensuring a "true reconciliation" among the city's religious and ethnic groups.

"We need these communities to be at peace with each other," he said.

TRTWorld and agencies