#MosulOps: UN preparing for Mosul exodus with 30,000 tents

#MosulOps: UN preparing for Mosul exodus with 30,000 tents
2 min read
24 October, 2016
While IS defences crumble and Kurdish and Iraqi fighters move into Mosul, the UN is busy preparing for an exodus of mammoth proportions when the city falls.
Iraqi refugees are beginning to stream out of towns surrounding Mosul [AFP]

The UN is busy preparing for an influx of refugees from Mosul, as Iraqi and Kurdish fighters close in on the Islamic State group-held city in northern Iraq.

Tens of thousands of tents are being erected by UNHCR workers, ready to house some 150,000 refugees it expects to flood into its camps as the fall of Mosul appears inevitable.

"The preparations are proceeding well... the UNHCR is going to have in two or three days 30,000 tents in Iraq, enough for 150,000 people," Filippo Grandi told reporters in Jordan after visiting Iraq.

Mosul is the last major bastion for IS in Iraq, and a force of Kurdish fighters, Shia militias, and Iraqi troops have started to advance on the city after seizing surrounding towns and villages.

As fighting moves into the densely populated outskirts of Mosul, aid groups fear the start of a major exodus of civlians from Mosul.

Many fear the Iraqi Shia militias who have been responsible for a wave of abductions and killings of civilians in areas retaken from the Islamic State group. Kurdish and government troops have also been responsible for killings.

As many as a million people could be displaced in the latest offensive, worsening the already terrible humanitarian situation in the country.

More than three million people have already been forced from their homes since the start of 2014, the UNHCR has said.

Grandi said a key issue was "to find enough sites to be able to receive this huge mass of people should it come out of Mosul".

"Negotiations in this respect are going on with the government of Iraq and with the Kurdish regional government," he said.

He said the displaced so far have come from the outskirts of Mosul where fighting has taken place, and not inside the city.

There have been reports that IS militants have warned civilians fleeing Mosul will be killed, and have used the city's residents as human shields.

Reports have also emerged of civilians attempting to flee the city being publically murdered by IS fighters.

"We have about 7,500 displaced people that have moved from the outskirts of Mosul to other locations that have been assisted and we have perhaps around 1,000 that have crossed into Syria," he said.

Agencies contributed to this story.