New UNHCR camp opens in response to surge in West Mosul displacement [EN/AR/KU]
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has opened another camp in response to a recent surge in the number of newly-displaced Iraqis fleeing the military offensive in western Mosul. An estimated 40,000 people fled areas of north-west Mosul and the Old City over a four-day period late last week.
The new camp, Al Salamiyah 1, which has capacity for around 11,000 individuals, was funded by the Iraqi government’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MOMD) and handed over to UNHCR and its partners, ISHO, ACTED and Samaritan’s Purse, for upgrading work, including fencing, installation of electricity and the improvement of water and sanitation facilities.
The new camp, which is located about 30 kilometres south of Mosul, on the east bank of the Tigris river, will be managed by UNHCR’s partner, ACTED.
At the same time, the first tents are also being pitched at Al Salamiyah 2, the UNHCR-constructed camp adjacent to Salamiyah 1. Al Salamiyah 2 is also managed by ACTED and will have eventual total capacity for up to 30,000 people.
"We lived in fear, hunger, thirst and pain under their control and we had to deal with that,” said 66 year old Hayat Muhsin Sultan who was displaced from her home in the Islah al-Ziraii neighbourhood in west Mosul:
“There was also a lack of health services,” added the elderly woman who suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems.
“Our staff and partners have been working around the clock to make more shelters available as we have been seeing large outflows coming out of West Mosul, in the last few days, and expect more mass displacement in the coming days and weeks in what might be the final stages of the offensive” said UNHCR’s Representative in Iraq, Bruno Geddo.
“Recent arrivals are clearly exhausted and traumatised, often with no belongings with them, apart from the clothes they are wearing. Many have survived eating just one meal a day – often only flour and water, or boiled grass and leaves. When they arrive, they are provided with a hot meal, a tent, mats, a cooking stove and the basic household and kitchen essentials necessary to live in the camp.”
UNHCR has built 12 other camps in order to respond to the large-scale displacement from Mosul and surrounding areas. One camp, Hasansham U2, opened earlier this month.
According to the latest government figures, more than 657,000 people in total have been displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas since October, when the military offensive began, including more than 480,000 individuals displaced from western Mosul since mid February. An estimated 141,000 people have since returned to their areas of origin.