Mossoul, focus on people displacement

Wednesday November 2nd, 2016

By François Dupaquier

Today, 17,520 people have moved following the battle in Mossoul; 1 million displaced people are expected and 1.5 million civils could need humanitarian assistance.

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Preparing for the battle in Mossoul

The Iraqi authorities gave planned a maximum displacement of 1 million people – 700 000 of them need a shelter. 4 hosting areas have been predetermined. The first one named “quadrant one” is preparing for 100,000 people coming to Erbil and Soulaymaniyah. The second one, “quadrant two”, located north of the Ninewah governorate, is expecting 250,000 displaced people. In the “quadrant three”, east of Ninewah, the number of IDPs (internally displaced people) has not been determined. And the “quadrant four” south of Ninewah and in Salah al Din is preparing for an inflow of 350,000 people. Military authorities have also confirmed their control strategy towards civil population displacement. In Mossoul, the idea is to displace populations from unsecure zones towards secured ones. Civils escaping from the city will have access to consolidation zones behind the control line. Then, those displaced people will be transferred by truck to safety zones, where they will be controlled and families will immediately benefit from basic assistance. Then, they will be transferred to spontaneous camps or consolidation zones. Assistance is planned in coordination between the Iraqi Kurdistan authorities (KRG), the Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MoMD) and humanitarian actors, NGOs and UN agencies mainly.

Data updated on October 27th 2016

[2] carte-deplacements-271016

On October 2nd 2016, less than 20,000 people moved mainly to the south and the east of Mossoul. 51% IDPs seek refuge in formal camps, while the others are received in host families. They escape in very dangerous conditions, because they can be a target for warring parties and could be caught in the battles in totally lined areas.

The people displaced bring very few belongings and become extremely dependent on humanitarian assistance. ISIS combatants’ scorched earth strategy during their retreat results in a massive laying of explosive mines and traps, along with systematic destroys, and sours concern about limited returns of displaced people in their place of origin at the end of the battles.

Since the day war began, 19 oil wells have been fired and a water treatment plant has been damaged, hence chlorine gas leak. The brimstone plant fired, although it was 90% extinguished, still poses health problems. Then more than 1,000 people have been given a treatment for breathing problems due to the inhalation of toxic gas. The impact on the environment could last and have a huge health impact.

Access to populations is a huge challenge. There is a great deal of uncertainty on Mossoul inhabitants’ ability to take the escape pathways planned by the armies and reach the hosting areas dedicated in the humanitarian contingency plan in the battle in Mossoul. The population is held hostage and serves now as a human shield, as evidenced by the slaughter of 232 people by the Islamic state on October 26th. Although only some suburbs and villages around Mossoul have been taken from the Jihadist group, on October 29th 2016, only 17,520 people could escape from Mossoul and seek refuge behind the front line. 8,000 families in neighboring villages are said to have been also displaced towards the city center and held hostage by Daesh to protect strategic targets. The isolation of people from Mossoul and its surroundings is horrible, as they are circled by various armies (Peshmergas, Iraqi security forces, Shiite militias, international coalition, etc.) which consist of more than 40,000 soldiers deployed on the soil. Moreover, ISIS’ massively and permanently posed mines on the ground behind them caused concern about a long and deadly campaign for combatants like civil populations.

[1] Source: OCHA Situation report n°3

[2] Source: IOM tracking matrix