500,000 civilians flee violence in Iraq’s Mosul: Report

Baghdad : An estimated half a million people have fled their homes after surge in violence in Iraq’s second largest city of Mosul as militant groups took full control of the city, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said Wednesday.

“IOM’s Rapid Assessment and Response Teams have been monitoring the situation on the ground and report that their sources estimate that the weekend’s violence displaced over 500,000 people in and around the city (Mosul),” Xinhua quoted the Geneva-based organisation as saying in a statement.

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A curfew was imposed in the city since June 5, and indiscriminate shelling prevented the residents from using their vehicles in the city, which limited their access to basic services and forced them to flee on foot, the statement said.

The violence in Mosul, some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has resulted in a high number of casualties among civilians.

The main health campus, a group of four hospitals, is inaccessible, as it is in the middle of an area in which there is fighting.

The main water station in western Mosul was destroyed by bombing, making the neighbourhoods in the city suffering from a lack of drinking water, while many families were also facing food shortage, particularly those who were hosting other displaced families in their homes inside the city, the statement added.

Last week, bloody clashes broke out between the Iraqi security forces and hundreds of gunmen who took control of several neighbourhoods in western part of Mosul and expanded later to other areas after the Iraqi security forces withdrew from the city.

Nineveh is a Sunni-majority province and its capital Mosul has long been a stronghold for insurgent groups, including al-Qaida militants, since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.