Iraq Situation: UNHCR Flash Update - 19 February 2017

Situation Report
Originally published



persons currently internally displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas since military operations to retake the city resumed on 17 October 2016

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

family plots are currently occupied out of 11,497 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

Iraqi refugees hosted by neighbouring countries in the region, and

Iraqis received in Al Hol camp in Syria since 17 October 2016.


USD 578 million
requested for IDPs and Iraqi refugees in the region in 2017.

Situation Update

West Mosul offensive begins. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally announced today (19 February) the start of the offensive to retake the west side of Mosul from extremist groups. The Prime Minister underscored the importance of ensuring the safety of civilians and providing assistance to displaced populations.While smaller in area than east Mosul, the dense concentration of homes and narrow streets on the west side of the city are expected to present challenges as the offensive progresses. Late on 18 February, millions of leaflets were dropped on west Mosul to warn residents of the start of the ground offensive.

Medical actors prepare for casualties in west Mosul. With the west Mosul offensive beginning, efforts are underway to establish three additional field hospitals to provide care for expected casualties. Since 17 October, nearly 4,000 injured persons were referred from Mosul to Erbil main hospitals and Bartalah field hospital, almost half of whom were civilians.

Population Movements

Mosul: Population movements continue to be fluid, with parallel movements of families fleeing Mosul to camps and families returning from camps to retaken neighbourhoods in and around east Mosul. About 81% of the IDPs who fled Mosul since 17 October 2016 are sheltered in camps, while 18% are accommodated in host communities, mostly in villages around Mosul. Less than 1% of the estimated 160,000 persons displaced from Mosul since 17 October are sheltered in public or unfinished buildings.

In a new development, UNHCR has noted that a small number of families have decided to come back to camps after attempting to return to their places of origin in east Mosul. Families interviewed by UNHCR in Hasansham U3 camp cited the lack of electricity and water, the level of destruction in their neighbourhoods, and concerns about security as the primary reasons for returning to the camp.

UNHCR Response Update

UN to resume missions to east Mosul. Following a brief suspension of UN missions to east Mosul due to security concerns, an assessment was conducted to determine whether UN agencies can operate safely in the retaken areas. As a result of the findings, UN agency missions will resume today (19 February).

Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) launches a sponsorship programme for families displaced from Mosul. Following continuous joint advocacy efforts by UNHCR and protection partners, the sponsorship programme was officially announced in early February. According to camp management in Khazer and Hasansham camps, where 52,100 IDPs are currently sheltered, 240 families have already applied for a sponsorship arrangement. All sponsorship applications have been approved by authorities and the first 40 families have departed to Erbil Governorate on 15 and 16 February. In Nargizlia 1 and Qaymawa camps, northeast of Mosul, 76 IDPs have already departed the camps, mostly to Dohuk Governorate.

Following further advocacy by UNHCR in Kirkuk, authorities have halted eviction notifications to IDPs and started to return their confiscated IDs. Since 16 February, over 1,141 IDPs families sheltered in Kirkuk Governorate had seen their identification documents confiscated or been notified by authorities that they have to return to their areas of origin, although their villages are deemed not safe for return. UNHCR will continue to monitor the situation closely and advocate for informed voluntary return in safety and dignity.