Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) The number of refugees who returned to their homes in the city of Mosul has reached nearly 19.000 since security operations launched in October to retake Iraq’s second largest city from Islamic State militants, the Ministry of Migration and Displacement said on Tuesday.
Minister Mohamed Jassem al-Jaff said in a statement that 18.748 people returned home in different areas in the provinces of Mosul, Salahuddin and Kirkuk since the start of operations by Iraqi government forces, US-led coalition forces and popular mobilization militias.
The ministry’s latest count of refugees from Mosul and Kirkuk had stood at at least 125.000 refugees. The United Nations estimates the number of internally displaced people in Iraq by at least 3.5 million, and had voiced concerns over the fate of one million Iraqis upon the announcement of launching operations to retake Mosul.
Many refugees have reportedly been enduring food and medicine shortages as well as unfavorable weather conditions at refugee camps, and some have been reported dead due to those difficulties.
Rights organizations and news reports have said that Islamic State militants intentionally target refugees upon their escape from battlefields, and in some cases executed those who attempted to flee the group’s strongholds