Nearly 13 weeks into the Mosul military operation against the Islamic State (ISIL) – which began on 17 October – over 144,500 Iraqis are currently displaced. The majority are in desperate need of life-saving humanitarian assistance, especially in the cold winter weather and rain.
According to IOM Iraq’s Displaced Tracking Matrix (DTM) the displacement count from 17 October through 12 January stands at 144,588 people. The latest Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) Emergency Tracking figures on displacement from Mosul operations are available at: http://iraqdtm.iom.int/EmergencyTracking.aspx
On Wednesday, 11 January, IOM visited the town of Gogjiali, nearly 10 kilometers from Mosul. Gogjiali has turned into a hub to where Iraqis escaping Mosul arrive. Families who have been separated by ISIL’s occupation of the city often reunite for the first time.
Since it was retaken on 1 November, this strategic town, on the edge of the eastern sector of Mosul, has seen thousands of displaced Iraqis pass through. Some are heading to emergency sites and camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) across the north of the country.
Others remain in Gogjiali, due to its proximity to Mosul, but conditions are dire. On 11 January IOM distributed 700 winter non-food item (NFI) relief kits to IDPs living in Gogjiali and its environs.
Men, women and children lined up in the early hours of the morning to collect the kits, which included blankets, towels, solar and rechargeable lights, nylon ropes, hygiene kits, kerosene heaters, carpets, sewing kits and plastic sheets.
Most spoke of leaving their neighborhoods to escape from ISIL’s random shells and the fear of being buried under the rubble. “What people in Mosul went through was extremely hard… we saw death, hardship, hunger, siege,” said an IDP, Um Omar.
“They are oppressors, who damaged us a lot. For the last two and a half years, our children and university students, have not been able to finish their education. They sat at home, afraid of Daesh (ISIL). They (ISIL) lacked every sense of humanity,” said a mother, Um Salem.
According to IOM’s Emergency Tracking (DTM) between 5 January and 12 January, an additional 2,059 families (12,354 people) have been displaced as a result of Mosul military operations, amid fears that the western sector of the city will soon face a desperate siege.
The spike in Iraqi’s displaced population brought the cumulative numbers of IDPs to 26,862 families (161,172 individuals) since the offensive began on 17 October. Of these, 24,102 families (144,612 individuals) are still displaced – the rest are considered returnees.
Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande said that the possibility of a siege in the western sector was “very real”, adding that this would have enormous implications for the civilians trapped there.
Grande described the current operation to retake Mosul from ISIL as “one of the largest urban battles that would have taken place since WWII.”
Planning for the “massive” humanitarian response that began last February has enabled workers to reach 500,000 people, she said.
IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss said: “Humanitarian aid is essential for the survival of the thousands of families displaced by Mosul operations, who have left everything behind to save their own lives. Assistance must provide for a range of needs – including shelter, household items, health and livelihoods. IOM is pleased to be providing this assistance, in cooperation with the government and humanitarian partners, but funding and humanitarian efforts must be further enhanced, in order to sustain current humanitarian programming, and prepare to provide for further displacement from the ongoing crisis.”
At the start of the military operations to retake the city, 1.5 million civilians were living in Mosul. With the re-taking of nearly 80 percent of the eastern sector, nearly 400,000 civilians are no longer under ISIL control.
The emergency site at Al-Qayara Airstrip, established by IOM in cooperation with the Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MoMD), is now hosting more than 15,931 IDPs (2,697 families), occupying the 2,860 plots ready with water and sanitation facilities. More than 350 new arrived families are waiting in six “rub halls” until further plots and tents are ready to move into.
Building capacity for 10,000 plots is ongoing for the expansion phase, in addition to 7,500 plots at IOM’s second constructed emergency site in Haj Ali. These two sites will provide shelter for over 105,000 individuals.
Last week IOM opened the emergency site in Haj Ali and received its first 74 families (398 individuals.) It is expected that by Saturday IOM engineers will complete enough plots to accommodate 120 families at the site.
To assist Iraqis displaced by Mosul operations, IOM is providing critical humanitarian aid, including shelter, winter emergency household items, fuel, health and psychosocial services for more than 240,000 people in newly retaken areas, as well as for those in camps and emergency sites.