As a US-backed offensive pushes into the western neighborhoods of Mosul, more than 2,000 people left the Iraqi city over the weekend. But with hundreds of thousands of civilians caught in the fighting, camps near the city cannot house all the displaced.
In what is believed to be the biggest exodus since local forces stepped up their operations to retake the western part of the city from Islamic State terrorist group (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) a week ago, the UN is now working to expand its camps near the city.
Up to 400,000 civilians could be displaced by the fighting in west Mosul, according to humanitarian organizations’ estimates. While people continue to flee to safer areas from the western districts of Mosul, the existing camps near the city currently cannot house all the people expected to be displaced.
“We believe there are around 750,000 people, with more than 300,000 children [among them] inside west Mosul, and we believe half of that number of people would flee,” UNICEF regional emergency coordinator in Iraq, Bastien Vigneau told RT.
Based on these estimation figures, the UN is working to provide additional shelter and assistance inside camps, the UN official added, saying the organization is gravely concerned about the humanitarian situation affecting residents of west Mosul.
“There is no water, no food, no bread. Nothing,” a displaced man from Mosul told RT. Another one said: “We left our house, our cars, everything we owned, we took nothing but our clothes. We are scared, tired and hungry. My situation speaks for itself.”
“There are hundreds of thousands of civilians still inside west Mosul, still living under ISIS. These are people who have extremely limited access to food, clean drinking water, medication. And as the fighting rages, we simply have no idea how long these people are going to remain without access to all of those things,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) Senior Iraq Researcher, Belkis Wille confirmed to RT.
Hundreds of Coptic Christians are arriving in Ismailia, northern Egypt, having fled their homes after ISIS killings increased.
Following a video call for a surge in attacks on Christians, militants killed several Copts with one beheaded and another set on fire. As many as 29 have been killed in recent weeks.
One priest in the terror-struck town of Al-Arish, northern Sinai, said 550 had fled. Other estimates put the total at 250.
Evangelical churches in Ismailia are joining Coptic churches to provide shelter for the refugees.
Evangelical pastor Ezzat Afifi said: ‘They are in a state of fear and shock. Each and every one of them received direct death threats. I hope that this is only temporary. I hope they return to their homes, their schools and friends.’
He added: ‘Many families lost their loved ones, cousins, relatives and friends by killing.’
One refugee, Morcos Bahgat, whose father was killed in a shooting, said: ‘Two masked men attacked my father in his clinic at 2pm. They took him out to the street and made him kneel.
‘They threatened to kill him if he doesn’t confess to Islam. When he refused to do that, they shot him immediately. The police didn’t come and no one did anything, everyone stood there watching.’
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