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Mosul: More than 15,000 people already displaced

Emergency Explosive weapons

More than 15,000 people have been displaced since military operations to retake the city of Mosul in Iraq began on 17th October 2016. Handicap International is preparing to supply them with aid and fears mass displacements are likely to occur within weeks.

Camp for internally displaced persons in Iraq.

Camp for internally displaced persons in Iraq. | © Camille Borie / Handicap International

“More than 15,000 people have been forced from their homes just within the last 10 days, joining more than three million people already displaced in Iraq,” explains Thomas Hugonnier, head of Handicap International’s operations in Iraq.

“If the situation turns critical, population movements are likely to intensify over the coming days. More than 200,000 displaced people are expected to be displaced from Mosul and the surrounding area over the coming weeks, and possibly more than one million.”

“Population movements have become particularly complex in recent days, and people have begun to flee in all directions. Leaving everything behind, they generally arrive in places where the population is already particularly vulnerable. It’s an extremely worrying situation.”

Handicap International intends to provide these newly displaced people with assistance as soon as possible and to set up rehabilitation, psychosocial support and mine risk education activities in reception and displacement zones shortly.

Other humanitarian organisations working on the ground will be made aware of the importance of taking into account the needs of vulnerable people, including disabled, injured and older people, in their actions to help displaced people.

Handicap International also intends to provide support to thousands [1] of people who have returned to their villages following the withdrawal of the Islamic State last week.

“Families of returnees are also highly vulnerable and probably the most at risk from explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices,” adds Thomas Hugonnier. “A lot of booby traps have been found in homes and streets in recently retaken villages.”

“Returnees must be made aware of the hazards they are going to face, and know what to do in this sort of situation. It’s a question of survival.”

Funds to implement an emergency response are wholly inadequate. Handicap International is calling on the international community to release the necessary funds to provide swift and comprehensive aid to displaced people. Up to one and a half million civilians may be affected by this crisis and their needs are increasingly urgent as displacements gather pace. 

[1] 3,300 people, according to the OCHA report of 26th October 2016.

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