Record number of civilians flee Mosul since October, NGO
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – An average of 10,000 people continue to flee conflict areas in Western Mosul as fighting intensifies between the Iraqi forces who have announced their last push and the ISIS militants who are expected to make their last stand in the Old Mosul where they announced their so-called Islamic caliphate nearly three years ago which controlled large parts of Iraq and Syria.
According to the UN children's agency UNICEF, about 80,000 children are said to be trapped in the conflict areas in Mosul faced with shortage of medicine and food.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said this week that the number of fleeing people peaked when about 16,000 people arrived at what now has become a transit zone in Hamma al-Alil, a town south of Mosul, citing the Iraqi government figures.
The organization said that it was the largest daily movement of people since the launch of the Mosul operation by a joint Iraqi and Kurdish security forces last October, walking several hours before reaching the nearest military checkpoint where they undergo a screening process to detect any suspected ISIS militants.
With summer temperatures rising which has already surpassed 30 Celsius, many of the fleeing people choose to leave their homes at night when it is cooler.
While some will be moved to other camps since the Hammam al-Alil has already reached its maximum limits, others choose to head to the eastern Mosul liberated in January.
An estimated 150,000 to 200,000 people are thought to have been trapped in the ISIS-held Old Mosul.
The Iraqi army declared a fresh and final phase of the Mosul offensive to capture the last few ISIS-held areas in Western Mosul, including the Old Mosul.
The Iraqi security forces have missed a self-appointed deadline on Saturday at which time they said the entire western part of the city, also called the right bank, would be liberated.
They said the delay is due to new measures to protect civilian lives as they pushed into the densely-populated areas where fewer than one thousand ISIS militants are expected to make their last stand as they face either to surrender or to be killed by the Iraqi forces.
More than half a million people have fled their homes from the right bank since February when the Iraqi forces launched the military operation to drive out ISIS militants there.
Photos: AFP/Karim Sahib