MOSUL - An Iraqi minister on Saturday
sharply criticized UN efforts to aid
civilians fleeing fighting in west Mosul,
even as the United Nations insisted that
providing such assistance was the "top
Tens of thousands of people have fled
west Mosul since Iraqi forces launched an
operation to retake it from the Islamic
State jihadist group on February 19, pushing
into the area from the south.
"Unfortunately, there is a clear
shortfall in the work of these (UN)
organisations," said Jassem Mohammed al-Jaff,
the minister of displacement and migration.
Asked to elaborate, Jaff said: "The
United Nations talks a lot but the efforts
being made are little, despite the huge
amount of money in their possession."
More than 50,000 people have fled west
Mosul since the push to retake it was
launched, Jaff said.
The UN, which has been providing shelter,
food and other assistance to Iraqis who have
fled Mosul during the nearly five-month-long
battle, said it is working as fast as
possible to help those displaced.
"The top priority for humanitarians is to
make sure that there is sufficient capacity
at emergency sites to deal with the number
of civilians who are fleeing western Mosul,"
said Lise Grande, the UN's humanitarian
coordinator in Iraq.
"In the past several weeks, we have been
rushing to... construct that capacity, and
we are redoubling our efforts now," Grande
IS overran large areas north and west of
Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by
US-led air strikes and other assistance have
since regained most of the territory they
lost to the jihadists.
The battle to retake Mosul -- the last
IS-held city in Iraq -- was launched on
More than 190,000 people are currently
displaced as a result of the battle for
Mosul, while more fled but have since
returned to their homes, according to the
International Organisation for Migration.
Iraqi forces recaptured east Mosul in
January, and have now set their sights on
the smaller but more densely-populated
western side of the city.