77,826 flee Mosul as conflict rages: IOM

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Geneva, Dec 3 (IANS) Nearly 77,826 civilians have fled Mosul and its adjacent districts since Iraq’s military operations to recapture Mosul, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said.

“We are deeply concerned about both the displaced and host communities’ ability to cope with the winter weather,” Xinhua news agency quoted IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss as saying on Friday.

“Now that the rains have begun, people living in makeshift shelters are at risk from the cold, damp weather, which is affecting their health, particularly the elderly and children,” he added.

According to the organisation’s latest statistics, 80 per cent of those recently displaced by military operations are living in formal camps.

Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has distributed over 8,000 kits containing blankets and quilts to recently recaptured towns and villages in Mosul.

A further 3,500 kits will be delivered to families living in the area over the coming days, the agency added.

On October 17, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of a major offensive to retake Mosul, the country’s second largest city and the last major Islamic State (IS) stronghold in Iraq since 2014.

The UN Refugee Agency had warned prior to the military campaign that as many as 1.2 million civilians could be displaced by the fighting.

–IANS

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