Nineveh (IraqiNews.com) The number of refugees escaping battles between government troops and Islamic State militants in western Mosul has soared to more than 57000, the Iraqi Migration and Displacement Ministry said Sunday.
Minister Jassem al-Jaff said this was the number of civilians fleeing homes since operations started last month to clear western Mosul from militants. The total number of refugees from Nineveh increased to 286.000 since the first round of operations began in October, the minister explained.
“The ministry is prepared to receive 100.000 refugees from the western side of Mosul at its camps,” al-Jaff stated.
The 57.000 number is larger than the 47.000 declared hours earlier by the International Organization of Migration.
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 last week 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.