Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) The number of refugees who fled Mosul to refugee camps has soared to 169.000 since battles flared in October 2016 between Islamic State militants and Iraqi government forces seeking to retake the city.
Sattar Nuroz, a spokesperson of the Iraqi Migration and Displacement Ministry, was quoted by Anadolu Agency as saying that the new surge coincides with a second phase of operations launched by the Iraqi government on 29th December to recapture the city. It is an increase from 160.000 refugees counted by the ministry last Thursday.
He explained that 21.000 refugees have been returned to their liberated hometowns in Mosul since then.
Most of the refugees are sheltered at camps in the east and south of Mosul.
In Anbar, where military forces and allied militias launched a liberation campaign a few days ago, the number of refugee families returned to their homes in the province has reached more than 121.000.
Anadolu Agency quoted Mohamed Yassin, a member of Anbar Province’s council, as saying that that leaves more than 22.000 families still in refugee camps inside the province.
Iraqi forces recaptured most if Anbar late 2015, but Islamic State militants still hold some hideouts in the western towns of Qaem, Annah and Rawa.
The United Nations had voiced fears that battles in Mosul could force at least one million Iraqis out of their homes. It estimates the number of Iraqis displaced internally by 3.5 million.