Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) The number of civilians who have fled western Mosul since the start of security operations to retake the region from the Islamic State has soared further to 26000, the Iraqi government said.
The Ministry of Migration and Displacement said Wednesday that the number is of those who fled the western section of Mosul since operations launched in February 19th. It brings the total of those who escaped battle hotspots in Mosul as well as from neighbouring Kirkuk since mid October to 251.000, said the ministry.
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 Sunday 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.