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Mar. 10, 2017

Refugees from western Mosul exceed 76.000 since operations start


Displaced Iraqis wait to enter Hamam al-Alil camp, as Iraqi forces battle with Islamic State militants, south of Mosul, Iraq March 10, 2017. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem – RTS129OB

Nineveh - Refugees received at government camps since the start of offensives to recapture western Mosul from Islamic State have exceeded 76.000, according to the Iraqi government.

Minister Jassem al-Jaff said his ministry’s field workers received 6460 civilians from restive areas in western Mosul over the past hours. He stressed the ministry continues efforts to shelter the refugees at its camps before returning them later to their homes once liberated by government forces.

According to al-Jaff, the total of refugees received since the launch of operations to free western Mosul mid February has reached 76.7877.

The United Nations and Iraqi refugee bodies have warned that battles in western Mosul could displace at least 250.000 out of 750.000 estimated to be trapped under IS control in western Mosul. Upon the launch of operations to recapture eastern Mosul last October, the United Nations predicted 1.5 million refugees.

A spokesperson of the Iraqi government said earlier this month that over four million people had been displaced inside Iraq since Islamic State took over large areas of Iraq in 2014, adding that the government spent 300 billion dinars since then to cater for refugees.

Islamic State has targeted civilians trying to escape areas under its control in Iraq, and many were killed by landmines planted by the group upon fleeing. The United Nations has also reported of severe food and medical stuff shortages affecting civilians in western Mosul. Iraqi security officials have, meanwhile, detected instances where IS militants tried to flee battles in the middle of refugee groups.