UNHCR Opens New Camps for Displaced Iraqis Fleeing Mosul

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Matthew Saltmarsh to whom quoted text may be attributed at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

General shots of UNHCR's Al Alam camp, home to about 180 internally displaced Iraqis who fled violence in Mosul and its vicinity.   © UNHCR/Nasreddine Touaibia

As night-time temperatures in Mosul have begun to drop to freezing, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is opening two new camps to accommodate Iraqis displaced by the fighting in Iraq’s second city.

In the past week, UNHCR has opened Al Alam, in Tikrit, which is hosting 180 Iraqis, with more expected. Amalla camp, near Telafar, is set to open next week.

Existing camps are rapidly filling up. Already three UNHCR-run or supported camps (Qaymawa, Hasansham and the government-built Khazer M1 camp) are full and it could soon be a struggle to find new sites to shelter families uprooted from their homes. 

UNHCR currently has a total of six camps open -- in Erbil, Duhok, Kirkuk and Salah Al-din governorates. UNHCR-run and supported camps in Erbil and Duhok governorates alone host more than 47,485 displaced Iraqis, or 68% of the almost 70,000 Iraqis who have fled Mosul since a military offensive began on October 17. The numbers fleeing the city have been stable in recent days, but could climb again if clashes in the city intensify and safe routes out emerge.

UNHCR provides support through camp management, protection monitoring and distribution of emergency items, including in the government-built Khazer M1 camp in Hasansham, which currently hosts nearly 29,000 people. 

A further three camps are under construction with another one planned. But UNHCR is warning that it could soon run out of space if there is a spike in the numbers of those displaced. UNHCR is still urgently trying to find new land that could be suitable to build more camps if needed.

With winter setting in, it is more critical to find shelter solutions to ensure that families are not left in the cold. UNHCR has begun distributing extra winter assistance to displaced families. The help includes insulated mattresses, quilts, blankets, insulation liners for tents and kerosene stoves. UNHCR hopes to be able to provide winter assistance to 1.2 million displaced Iraqis in the coming months.

UNHCR's Mosul emergency response has been budgeted at USD 196.2 million. So far, 57%, or USD111.9 million, has been received.

 

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