68,100 have fled Mosul as war rages

Geneva, Nov 22 (IANS) Nearly 68,100 individuals have fled the Iraqi city of Mosul since military operations to recapture this Islamic State (IS) stronghold began on October 17, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday.

“The number of displaced people continues to increase, even as we are seeing more people returning to their homes,” Xinhua news agency quoted IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Weiss as saying in a statement.

“Making sure displaced people as well as affected communities are receiving assistance is more critical than ever as temperatures are close to freezing at night,” he added.

According to figures, some 6,120 individuals were forced to flee Mosul on November 19 as a result of indiscriminate shelling carried out by IS fighters.

A further 3,180 civilians were displaced on November 18 and November 21.

IOM revealed that around 78 per cent of those recently displaced by Mosul operation are living in formal camps.

A further 16 per cent have taken shelter in private settings, while 6 per cent are in critical shelter arrangements and less that 1 per cent are passing through screening sites.

Supported by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Iraqi troops kicked off operations to take back the city which fell into IS hands in June 2014 after government forces abandoned their weapons and fled.

International aircraft as well as Iraqi and US-led coalition artillery units are supporting ground operations there.