Tuesday March 19, 2019
Home World Humanitarian ...

Humanitarian Disaster strikes Fallujah: About 60,000 people flee to escape IS-held city in Iraq

Iraqi fighters face snipers and bombs as they fight to eliminate IS militants from the city they have held for more than two years

1
//
Iraqi soldiers help civilians, who fled from Falluja because of Islamic State violence, during a dust storm on the outskirts of Fallujah, Iraq, June 18, 2016. Image source: Reuters
  • The number of people who have managed to leave the city has topped 60,000
  • People from Fallujah have managed to find refuge in warehouses or mosques as refugee camps become full
  • PM Haider al Abadi declared the Iraqi forces had been victorious in their fight to take control of the city

Exhausted, hungry and desperate, 30,000 people have poured out of Fallujah in the past three days as Iraqi forces stormed into the center of the city, pushing Islamic State fighters into the northwest of the city.

Despite the searing Iraqi summer heat, many of those who have escaped are sleeping out in the open as refugee camps are now full. Others have managed to find refuge in warehouses or mosques.

Norwegian Refugee Council staff provide drinking water for Iraqis from Fallujah at Amariyat al-Fallujah displacement camp. Photo: Karl Schembri/NRC. Image source: Reuters
Norwegian Refugee Council staff provide drinking water for Iraqis from Fallujah at Amariyat al-Fallujah displacement camp. Photo: Karl Schembri/NRC. Image source: Reuters

The number of people who have managed to leave the city has topped 60,000.

Appeal to government

The Norwegian Refugee Council, which is providing emergency food rations and bottled water to thousands of people, said the sheer numbers and a lack of camp coordination has made it difficult to reach all the newly arrived families.

Follow NewsGram on facebook: NewsGram

“We implore the Iraqi government to take charge of this humanitarian disaster unfolding on our watch,” said NRC Country Director Nasr Muflahi in a statement.

Iraqi army soldiers hold Iraqi flag on a top of a military vehicle in the centre of Fallujah, Iraq, June 18, 2016. Image source: Reuters
Iraqi army soldiers hold Iraqi flag on a top of a military vehicle in the centre of Fallujah, Iraq, June 18, 2016. Image source: Reuters

“We cannot continue to provide aid when we do not even know who is where and what they need,” Muflahi said.

Prime Minister Haider al Abadi declared the Iraqi forces had been victorious in their fight to take control of the city.

Follow NewsGram on twitter: @NewsGram1

But in Fallujah, Iraqi fighters face snipers and bombs as they fight to eliminate IS militants from the city they have held for more than two years.

Some militants reportedly have sent their wives and children out of the city with the refugees. (VOA)

ALSO READ:

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    If the UN cannot do anything about this, there should be people from other countries who should take this initiative and ask their governments to help our fellow Syrian brothers and sisters.

Next Story

Thousands Displaced as SDF Targeting Civilians Advances on Last IS Territory in Syria

Bali said the second obstacle for the SDF forces is that IS has a number of hostages who had been arrested and detained by the militants.

0
Syria
A U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter stands atop a hill in the desert outside the village of Baghuz, Syria, Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

Islamic State (IS) fighters are targeting civilians who are trying to flee the last territory held by the terror group in eastern Syria, U.S.-backed forces told VOA on Thursday.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed Kurdish-led alliance, said that IS militants hit a road used by civilians to escape violence as the battle to free the town of Baghuz in Syria’s Deir el-Zour province enters its sixth day.

“IS has blocked that road to prevent civilians from coming to the SDF,” SDF fighter Ali Ahmed said. “They have targeted civilians there, but we have responded to their attacks against civilians.”

Ahmed said that some families of IS fighters are among the fleeing civilians.

Located near the Iraqi border, Baghuz is the last stronghold held by IS extremists in Syria. With the help of the U.S.-led coalition, SDF fighters have pushed out IS from all territories it once held since 2014.

Fierce fighting between IS militants and the U.S.-backed fighters continues as the latter try to gain ground on Baghuz on several fronts.

“We have two main obstacles as we advance on Baghuz,” Mustafa Bali, an SDF spokesperson, told VOA. “The first one is that [IS] terrorists are holding on to a number of civilians to use them as a bargain chip for their exit.”

Bali said the second obstacle for the SDF forces is that IS has a number of hostages who had been arrested and detained by the militants.

IS controls about 5 square kilometers of territory inside the Syrian town, local military officials said.

“It seems that even the Americans are trying to rescue those civilians and hostages from IS,” Hasib said in a phone interview. VOA

Ivan Hasib, a Syrian reporter covering the battle, told VOA that he witnessed an unusual movement by U.S. military vehicles in the area.

“It seems that even the Americans are trying to rescue those civilians and hostages from IS,” Hasib said in a phone interview.

He said the remaining IS fighters in Baghuz are hoping to exchange hostages for a safe exit into the Iraqi desert.

Also Read: Islamic State Using Women, Children as Human Shields to Postpone Defeat

“There must be some sort of negotiations between IS and SDF about the hostages, because even [U.S.-led] coalition airstrikes have stopped since Tuesday night,” Hasib said, adding that SDF fighters were forced to pause their military operations on the northeastern front in Baghuz.

“We can’t start marching toward it from this side because of civilians. Many civilians are using this road to this side. So we’re here to protect them,” Mezlum Kobani, an SDF commander, told VOA.

According to SDF officials, more than 5,000 civilians have been rescued from IS in Baghuz. (VOA)