Iraq Situation: UNHCR Flash Update - 26 February 2017

Report
from UN High Commissioner for Refugees
Published on 26 Feb 2017

KEY FIGURES

163,896 persons currently internally displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas since military operations to retake the city resumed on 17 October 2016

21,579 UNHCR kits of core relief items (CRIs) distributed to families in camps, assisting some 129,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Mosul and surrounding areas.

5,481 family plots are currently occupied out of 12,497 family plots (for some 75,000 people) in UNHCR built camps that are ready to receive IDPs displaced from Mosul corridor.

3 million IDPs since January 2014

246,649 Iraqi refugees hosted by neighbouring countries in the region, and 13,768 Iraqis received in Al Hol camp in Syria since 17 October 2016

1IOM-DTM Emergency Tracking since 17 October 2016.

2IOM-DTM as of 2 February 2017.

POPULATION MOVEMENTS

Minimal displacement from west Mosul has been observed since the start of the operations to retake the west part of the city on 19 February. According to families interviewed by UNHCR in camps, there are no apparent restrictions to leaving the city, but their relatives in west Mosul plan to stay in their homes until ISF liberates their area, creating a safe pathway to leave the city. Some families have, however, managed to flee villages in and around west Mosul. On 25 and 26 February, several hundred IDPs from west Mosul areas have been transported to sites in Qayyarah and Hammam Al-Alil, for security clearance. Around 260 families (an estimated 1,500 persons) were received at Jad’ah 4 camp, south of Mosul, last night (25 February). Arrivals and registrations are ongoing.

Insecurity in east Mosul continues, with daily attacks by armed groups, reportedly resulting in civilian casualties. According to the families interviewed by UNHCR, armed groups are targeting public places such as schools, markets and shops. Families who are returning to camps from Mosul also mention random arrests by Iraqi security forces (ISF) and intimidation by militias who have retaken control of some neighbourhoods in east Mosul.

Increasing number of IDPs fleeing areas south of Mosul corridor, in Salah al-Din Governorate, under armed groups’ control. Since the launch of the offensive to retake west Mosul on 19 February, the number of IDPs who are fleeing the eastern bank of Shirqat (still under armed groups’ control) has significantly increased: 774 IDPs fled towards the western bank held by the ISF between 19 and 23 February. All have been sheltered in governmental buildings.

SITUATION UPDATE

The military advance on west Mosul is moving faster than planned, according to media reports. ISF retook Mosul Airport and the nearby Ghizlani Military Camp on 23 February and reportedly entered four neighbourhoods immediately to the north and west of the airport between 24 and 25 February. Maamun neighbourhood was retaken today (26 February) and clashes are ongoing in other neighbourhoods.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Baghdad. During his visit, the first visit to Baghdad by a Saudi Foreign Minister since 1990, Mr. Al Jubeir reiterated Saudi Arabia’s commitment to working with Iraq against extremism in the region. Mr. Al-Jubeir also met his Iraqi counterpart, Ibrahim Al-Jaafari, who, at a joint press conference on 25 February, echoed the Saudi Foreign Minister’s statement, citing the two countries’ cooperation in combating terrorism.

UNHCR RESPONSE UPDATE

UNHCR is liaising with local authorities on the transfer of new arrivals from Shirqat and Hawiga to the new UNHCR camp in Tikrit, “Olympic Stadium”. The camp is ready to receive up to 1,000 families (6,000 persons) and 250 tents have already been pitched with more to follow as required. UNHCR is coordinating with local authorities in order for displaced civil servants and retirees to be registered in camps. The Directorate of Education for Ninewa (DoE) and Directorate of Social Affairs (DOLSA) brought their mobile teams back to Nargizlia 1 camp (northeast of Mosul) between 16 and 19 February, to continue the registration of all teachers and pension beneficiaries sheltered in the camp. The same initiative is planned for Qaymawa camp, nearby. IDPs cannot register themselves in relevant offices outside of camps due to movement restrictions. Once authorities have registered displaced teachers and pensioners in camps, and their status is re-activated in the civil servants’ registry and social allowances systems, the IDPs will reportedly receive their salaries in arrears for the past two years. The current lack of income and livelihood opportunities in camps is a major concern of displaced families and often mentioned as one of the reasons why they register for return to their places of origin, including in east Mosul.