Iraq and UN agree to limit civilian exodus from Mosul

In the build-up to an operation to take the northern Iraqi city of Mosul from Daesh, Iraqi government, UN, and Kurdish officials have met to discuss how to avoid worsening the country's population displacement problem.

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

With more than 3.4 million people now displaced in Iraq, the country is facing a growing crisis.

In order to limit the displacement of civilians during an anticipated operation aimed at taking the northern Iraqi city Mosul from the Daesh terrorist organisation, the UN, Baghdad and Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) have signed a three-way protocol.

At a press conference held in Erbil (the KRG's administrative capital) after the signing ceremony on Thursday, Iraqi Minister of Migration and Displacement Darbaz Mohamed voiced concerns regarding the operation's "humanitarian dimension."

Mohamed described the protocol as a "significant step" towards curbing the displacement of civilians from Mosul, adding that a team of experts had been tasked with addressing the problem.

Lisa Grande, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said all parties involved were aware of the difficulties posed by the upcoming Mosul operation and called for a "common mechanism" to avoid worsening the country's humanitarian crisis.

Located some 400 km (250 mi) north of Baghdad, Mosul was captured by Daesh on June 10, 2014. At the time 2.5 million people lived in the city, but it now has a population of only 600,000.

The Iraqi Army, backed by air strikes from a 60-nation coalition led by the US, has recaptured much territory in recent months. But Daesh remains in control of several parts of the country, including Mosul.

The army and its allies are now gradually advancing on Mosul, which officials in Baghdad have vowed to "liberate" by the end of the year.

A convoy of Iraqi security personnel advances on the outskirts of Mosul, to fight against Islamic State militants, in Kirkuk, Iraq, October 12, 2016. Source: Reuters

According to the UN, more than 3.4 million people are currently displaced in Iraq – more than half of them children – while more than 10 million are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

AA, TRTWorld and agencies