Safe corridor allows 4 000 to flee Fallujah

2016-06-13 07:16
Iraqi counter-terrorism forces take their lunch on their front line position during an operation to oust ISIS militants from Fallujah. (Maya Alleruzzo, AP)

Iraqi counter-terrorism forces take their lunch on their front line position during an operation to oust ISIS militants from Fallujah. (Maya Alleruzzo, AP)

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Baghdad - The Iraqi army has established a safe corridor that has allowed 4 000 Fallujah residents to flee the jihadist-held city in 24 hours, the Norwegian Refugee Council said on Sunday.

"The army opened a safe corridor for families fleeing from Fallujah through Al-Salam intersection," an officer with the Joint Operations Command supervising the fight against the Islamic State group said.

The Al-Salam intersection is southwest of the besieged ISIS stronghold, against which Iraqi forces launched a vast offensive on May 22-23.

Around 24 000 people have fled ISIS rule since the operation was launched, but very few had been able to leave central Fallujah, where the jihadists are using civilians as human shields.

Residents had been taking huge risks to flee, walking along mined roads and trying to cross the Euphrates River at any cost.

"The latest figure we have is that 4 000 individuals have managed to get out over the past 24 hours," the NRC's regional media adviser Karl Schembri said.

"We are of course relieved, but it also means we are completely overwhelmed as a humanitarian community," he told AFP, warning that the available resources of safe drinking water would not meet the needs of all the displaced for much longer.

Schembri said that the general aid effort in Iraq was massively underfunded, hampering the delivery of urgent relief.

In the short term, he said, the response to the Fallujah operation would require $10m over the next six months if another 35 000 people were displaced.

Before the safe passage was opened, the NRC estimated that 50 000 civilians were trapped inside Fallujah.

Read more on:    isis  |  iraq

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