Two years after fleeing Mosul, half-a-million people remain uprooted from their homes, while military activities in the north and south-east of Iraq’s second largest city are causing fresh displacement.
More than 14,000 displaced Iraqis have been registered in camps north and south-east of Mosul and across the border in Syria, since the Iraqi Security Forces began a new military offensive in late March this year. This includes more than 8,000 people who arrived in Debaga camp in Erbil governorate since 24 March, where UNHCR is providing aid.
Thousands more have moved on to Kirkuk or other governorates in Iraq. A further 6,700 Iraqis from in and around Mosul have fled to Syria’s north-eastern Hasakah governorate since April, including 5,400 of whom are registered at Al Hol camp where UNHCR is working with partners to provide shelter, sanitation facilities and medical care.
Meanwhile, many of those who fled the city two years ago have had to move several times in search for safety and a decent place to live. Most face economic hardship. A recent survey found unemployment is the greatest problem facing families uprooted from their homes and scattered across Iraq, a country where more than 3.3 million people – around 10 per cent of the population – have been displaced due to conflict since the start of 2014.
Eighty-two per cent of families from Mosul report not having enough income to cover their basic needs. This economic pressure leads to other problems and coping strategies, including high levels of child marriage, which is twice as prevalent among displaced people from Mosul compared to those from other parts of the country, according to the recent survey.
The UNHCR survey of 5,000 displaced families across Iraq – including 800 from Mosul – found people from Mosul are about three times as likely as other displaced families to consider moving to another location within Iraq, and about four times as likely to consider leaving the country.
Only a small minority of displaced people from Mosul – about three per cent – are considering returning home, compared to 21 per cent of displaced people from other areas. Of the half-a-million people who fled combat in Mosul two years ago, most (over 300,000) found shelter in Dohuk governorate of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, while others are scattered across the country.
Local authorities in Iraq estimate that an additional 30,000 people could be displaced from the area in the coming months.
By William Spindler