The military operation to retake Telafar city and district from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) began on 20 August, and unfolded more rapidly than initially anticipated. On Saturday 26 August, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) entered Telafar city and raised the Iraqi flag in the city centre. ISF took full control of the city and the eastern parts of the district. Current media reports indicate ISF is in the final stages of the military operation in northern Telafar district. It is anticipated the entire district will be under ISF control within the coming days.
At the onset of the operation, an estimated 10,000 to 40,0001 people remained inside Telafar. However, midway through the week-long operation, reports indicated that at most only a few thousand remained in the entire district. Without access to the area, verification was impossible and it is now thought that most residents left by the end of June. The current number of civilians who remain in Telafar city is believed to be low.
According to figures released by authorities, 22,000 people left the area from the end of April to 13 August. Partners on the ground reported an additional 20,204 people fled via two mustering points of Buweyr and Musaid between 14 and 22 August. Since April the number of documented IDPs who left Telafar thus stands at approximately 42,000. It is widely understood that thousands more may have fled since April; their numbers undocumented.
After the city centre was retaken on Saturday 26 August, there were reports that a further 1,500 people were displaced. Among these, about 1,000 attempted to cross to safety at the Bshar check point. Whilst waiting for access, nearby mortar fire started from ISIL-held areas and they turned back. The next day, all 1,500 reached ISF controlled Ayadiya sub-district and were transported to Hammam Al Alil. On 28 August 1,500 IDPs were permitted to cross at Bshar check point, where they received food, WASH and medical assistance. Health partners reported 90 people received medical assistance. The most serious cases were transferred to a nearby hospital. The Joint Crisis and Coordination Centre (JCC) faciliated the transfer of 1,040 to Hammam Al Alil with transportation provided by the Ministry of Migration and Displacement, that same day. An additional 460 IDPs await transfer to Hammam Al Alil.
On Saturday, 360 families were transferred from the screening site of Hammam Al Alil to the new 3,600 plot capacity camp in Al Salamiyah Nimrod. A further 347 families transferred on Sunday. UNHCR reported an additional 1,500 families (approximately 9,000 people) sheltering at the transit point of Hammam Al Alil will move to Al Salamyiah Nimrod camp.
Protection partners are an integral part of the camp registration process for IDPs, and work to identify and refer the most vulnerable cases to specialized services in a timely manner. Although unconfirmed, initial reports suggest the government intends to accelerate the return of civilians to Telafar where possible.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.