Northern Iraq braces for 500,000 refugees from Mosul

Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government says it will be unable to cope with wave of refugees heading north after ISIL militants seize Mosul

Northern Iraq braces for 500,000 refugees from Mosul

World Bulletin/News Desk

About 500,000 refugees fleeing Mosul after it was seized by Islamic State of Iraq and Levant militants are expected to arrive in northern Iraq, Dindar Zebari, the deputy head of the KRG's Department of Foreign Relations, has said.

After meeting officials from several international aid agencies, Zebari said Wednesday that three camps had been set up in Duhok and Erbil for refugees looking for shelter under the regional government.

"We expect around 500,000 refugees in our region and call upon international agencies for help and support," said Zebari.

He said more than 100,000 people had already reached the region by Wednesday afternoon and 180,000 others had arrived in the northern province of Duhok, but added that his regional government did not have the capacity to cope with such large numbers of people. 

Aid pledge

Iraq's deputy minister of migration and displacement, Asghar Abdul Razzaq, pledged to give assistance to the Kurdish region.

"The Baghdad government will give $250 for each family [seeking shelter in the Kurdish region] in the first phase," he said.

Meanwhile, police sources said two people had died after fleeing Mosul.

One officer said a 75-year-old woman suffering from heart disease, pressure and diabetes and a six-year-old child suffering from chronic respiratory disease, had both died in the city of Bashiqa, 17 km northeast of Mosul.

Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, commonly known as ISIL, took control of Mosul on Tuesday and headed south a day later, attacking areas of the city of Kirkuk. 

Deadly year

The Iraqi army's 12th division handed over their headquarters in Kirkuk to Kurdish Peshmerga forces, saying they were unable to defend the city.

The ISIL also took control of the city of Tikrit, just 140 km from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, Wednesday afternoon.

More than 15,000 Iraqi civilians have reportedly been killed in clashes between government forces and militant groups in the region since November 2012.

According to the UN, nearly 9,000 people were killed in 2013 alone, making it the deadliest year for the country in the past five.

ISIL was established in the early years of the Iraq War, pledging allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2004. It is also currently operating in Syria.

Al-Qaeda cut all ties to ISIL in February.

Last Mod: 12 Haziran 2014, 11:30
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