24 June 2016
BAGHDAD: Upcoming military offensives in Iraq against Daesh, including an assault on the northern city of Mosul, could displace at least 2.3 million people, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for Iraq said on Thursday.
The prediction of such a vast humanitarian emergency creates additional complications for the Iraqi government and its US allies, who have announced plans for offensives to drive Daesh fighters this year from most of their Iraqi territory.
More than 3.4 million people across Iraq have already been forced by conflict to leave their homes, according to the UN. In the past month, 85,000 people fled Fallujah, an hour’s drive from Baghdad, amid a military campaign that has recaptured large parts of the city from terrorists.
Most of the displaced are from Iraq’s minority Sunni community, raising concerns among officials that US-backed military gains against Daesh will not bring stability to Iraq more than 13 years after a US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, a Sunni.
Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, told Reuters in an interview that at least 430,000 more people could be displaced this year in Anbar, Iraq’s sprawling desert province stretching west from Fallujah to the Syrian border.
Government forces have retaken several cities in Anbar from Daesh in the past six months and are still pressing up the Euphrates river valley toward the border town of Qaim.
Grande said another 830,000 people would be displaced along “the Mosul corridor,” stretching more than 100 km from northern Salahuddin province toward the Daesh stronghold.