Mosul fighting has displaced nearly half a million

2017-04-18 07:00
An Iraqi federal police soldier in Mosul moves towards the front line in the fight against ISIS. (Felipe Dana, AP)

An Iraqi federal police soldier in Mosul moves towards the front line in the fight against ISIS. (Felipe Dana, AP)

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Baghdad - The six-month-old operation to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State group has forced around half a million people to flee their homes, the United Nations says.

Iraqi forces began the country's biggest military operation in years exactly six months ago and recaptured the east side of the city in January.

But an assault launched the following month on the part of Mosul that lies west of the Tigris River has seen a sharp rise in displacement.

"The sheer volume of civilians still fleeing Mosul is staggering," said Lise Grande, the UN's humanitarian co-ordinator in Iraq.

"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," she said.

Operational limits

Iraqi forces have been making significant gains in west Mosul over the past two months but the toughest battles could yet lie ahead, with die-hard jihadists hunkering down in the treacherous streets of the Old City.

The UN estimated that another half million civilians were still in ISIS-controlled areas of west Mosul.

"Mosul has pushed us to our operational limits," said Grande.

UN chief Antonio Guterres said on March 31 during a visit to a displacement camp near Mosul that the aid effort was woefully underfunded and called for greater international solidarity.

Read more on:    un  |  isis  |  antonio guterres  |  iraq

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