Ministry: refugees from Mosul at 355.000 since October

Newly internally displaced people queue to receive humanitarian packages at Al Khazer camp near Hassan Sham, east of Mosul, Iraq November 2, 2016. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Nineveh ( The number of Iraqi refugees who fled battles between Islamic State militants and Iraqi security forces in Mosul has reached 355.000 since operations launched in October 2016, according to the Iraqi government.

The Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displacement said Monday it counted 81.000 people who were relocated to their homes at the recaptured areas of the city.

Migrants from the western region alone reached 181.000 since an offensive launched in February to retake that area, according to Minister Jassem al-Jaff.

He said the ministry, with support from its partners, can still admit 100.000 more refugees.

The United Nations said last year it predicted 1.5 million people to leave homes as operations launch to retake Mosul, Islamic State’s strongest bastion in Iraq which fell to the extremist group in 2014. It also predicted 400.000 people to flee the western region out of 750.000 estimated to live there.

Food and medicine shortages were routinely reported at refugee camps and also among people still stranded in the middle of fighting hot spots. IS fighters have also executed many civilians over charges of attempting to escape areas under its control.

Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi said recently that the campaign against IS in Mosul was entering its final stages.

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