The United Nations informs that more than 13,000 people have fled Mosul in just five days since 29 December, as the second phase of military operations to retake the Iraqi city from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) terrorists has apparently begun, a United Nations spokesperson said today.
“The average daily displacement numbers have increased by nearly 50 per cent since military operations intensified, some 1,600 to more than 2,300 displaced per day,” said UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric at the regular Headquarters news briefing.
After quick initial advances, the operation stalled for several weeks but last Thursday Iraqi forces renewed their push from Mosul’s east towards the Tigris River on three fronts. As they advanced, many more civilian casualties were also being recorded, the UN said. Vastly outnumbered, the militants have embedded themselves among residents and are using the city terrain to their advantage, concealing car bombs in narrow alleys, posting snipers on tall buildings with civilians on lower floors, and making tunnels and surface-level passageways between buildings.
More than 125,000 people have been displaced out of a population of roughly 1.5 million, but the numbers have increased by nearly 50 percent to 2,300 daily from 1,600 over the last few days, the UN refugee agency said.
The humanitarian situation was “dire”, with food stockpiles dwindling and the price of staples spiraling, boreholes drying up or turning brackish from over-use and camps and emergency sites to the south and east reaching maximum capacity, it said.
Most of the fleeing civilians are from the eastern districts but people from the besieged west, still under the militants’ control, are increasingly attempting to escape, scaling bridges bombed by the coalition and crossing the Tigris by boat.