Noting that nearly half a million people have fled Mosul since the start of military operations to retake the city from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) terrorists, a senior United Nations (UN) humanitarian official in Iraq warned that the scale of the displacement has stretched relief efforts to their “operational limits”.
“Our worst case scenario when the fighting started was that up to one million civilians may flee Mosul. Already, more than 493,000 people have left, leaving almost everything behind,” Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said in a news release issued by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
According to estimates, as many as 500,000 people still remain in ISIL-controlled areas in western Mosul, including about 400,000 in the densely populated old city.
According to the UN, humanitarian agencies are scaling up their response, preparing emergency sites and camps to shelter the hundreds of thousands more who may flee in coming days and weeks, but they are under increasing strain.
Since the fighting began last October, some 1.9 million people have been provided life-saving assistance, including food, water, shelter, emergency kits, medical support and psycho-social services.