Iraq Situation: UNHCR Flash Update - 23 February 2017

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 25 Feb 2017

KEY FIGURES

161,730 persons currently internally displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas since military operations to retake the city resumed on 17 October 2016 (1)

21,285 UNHCR kits of core relief items (CRIs) distributed to families in camps, assisting some 126,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Mosul and surrounding areas

5,481 family plots are currently occupied out of 12,497 family plots (for some 66,000 people) in UNHCR built camps that are ready to receive IDPs displaced from Mosul corridor.

3 million IDPs since January 2014 (2)

246,649 Iraqi refugees hosted by neighbouring countries in the region, and

12,869 Iraqis received in Al Hol camp in Syria since 17 October 2016IOM-DTM Emergency Tracking since 17

(1) IOM-DTM Emergency Tracking since 17 October 2016.

(2) IOM-DTM as of 5 January 2017.

POPULATION MOVEMENTS

Mosul: An estimated 224,000 persons have been displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas since the official start of the military operation aimed at retaking the city, on 17 October 2016. Some 62,000 IDPs have reportedly returned to their areas of origin, leaving close to 162,000 persons still displaced at 23 February 2017. As the Mosul operations enters the western part of the city, more displacements are expected. Returns to east Mosul are nevertheless happening at a slower pace. In camps east of Mosul, an increasing number of families who had been cleared to return have decided to postpone their departures. UNHCR continues to observe families who had left, returning to camps within a few days. Families interviewed by UNHCR report that they do not intend to return to their places of origin before Mosul is fully back under government control. They mention insecurity, lack of jobs, and lack of access to affordable food, kerosene, or basic services such as potable water, medicine, and electricity as reasons which triggered their decision to remain in camps.

SITUATION UPDATE

Military operations to retake west Mosul city continue, in parallel with operations in Tel Afar, west of Mosul. Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi announced on 23 February that Iraqi security forces (ISF) have retaken Mosul airport, south of Mosul, and have entered the Ghazlani military base, an important military complex west of the airport. In the past few days, military forces in Tel Afar have encircled the city which is still under armed group control, effectively cutting it off from Mosul.

High level visits from US Defence Secretary and Russia’s Special Envoy to Iraq. US Secretary of Defence Mattis confirms the full support of the U.S. to Iraq during an official visit to Iraq, where he met with the Prime Minister Abadi and the Minister of Defence Hayali, on 20 February. The same day, Russia Special Envoy for the Middle East and Africa, Mikhail Bogdanov, visited Baghdad, where he met with a number of officials, including the Prime Minister to discuss bilateral cooperation between the two countries. In a press statement published the same day, the Special Envoy reaffirmed Russia’s continued support to Iraq in its effort to eradicate terrorism.

UNHCR RESPONSE UPDATE

UNHCR to start construction of new camp 15 km south of Mosul. Having received approval for Hammam Al- Alil II camp from local authorities, UNHCR will begin site planning and construction for the camp, which will have the capacity to shelter up to 5,000 families (some 30,000 IDPs) from west Mosul. The site, which is within the Agricultural College, is close to a new camp built by the government for a population of up to 4,000 displaced families (24,000 IDPs).

Anticipating displacement from west Mosul and Tel Afar, UNHCR has started conducting monitoring missions to Amalla area, about 80 km northwest of Mosul. Efforts are underway to ensure that there is an adequate response capacity in the area to provide protection and assistance in the event of an outflow of IDPs as a result of the ongoing military operation for the liberation of west Mosul and Tel Afar. Amalla camp, built by UNHCR, is ready to receive about 3,000 families (18,000 IDPs). UNHCR has prepositioned essential core relief items onsite to respond to the immediate needs of 500 families. Partners are mobilized and three UNHCR mobile protection monitoring teams are on standby in the area, ready to be deployed.