#MosulOp: New refugee camp opens after 'biggest displacement yet'

#MosulOp: New refugee camp opens after 'biggest displacement yet'
The UNHCR has opened a new refugee camp after 8,000 people fled Mosul in one day - the largest displacement since the anti-IS offensive on the city began.
3 min read
05 November, 2016

Iraq - UNHCR camp Mosul

A new refugee camp has opened in northern Iraq after the largest exodus of people fleeing Mosul since the offensive on the Islamic State group's stronghold in the city began.

The UN's refugee agency said the Hasansham camp was opened on Friday to accommodate some of the 8,000 people who escaped the battle-hit territory that day.

The influx comes as Iraqi troops advance ever closer towards IS positions inside the city leading to artillery and bombing of the Mosul suburbs, and fears of revenge attacks by pro-government fighters and troops.

"As part of the Mosul contingency plan and in agreement with the authorities, we have opened this new camp to cope with the new influx," said UNHCR Senior Field Coordinator Frederic Cussigh.

"The past 24 hours has seen the biggest displacement so far since the Mosul offensive began, and we have information that the influx is massive and ongoing," he said.

He added all of the new arrivals would be given a shelter the same day as they arrived.

Mass escape

Convoys of cars, trucks and farm vehicles carrying thousands escaping the frontlines began arriving overnight and continued throughout Friday.

An estimated 5,000 people were received at the nearby government-run Khazer camp.

The first families began arriving at UNHCR's newly built Hasansham camp at noon, and soon reached an estimated 3,000 people.

Previously, the number of Iraqis displaced since the start of the military offensive on 17 October had reached more than 22,000, with the latest arrivals pushing the total to around 30,000.


The UN has estimated that more than 1 million people could ultimately be displaced from their homes.

Most of the new arrivals came from Gogjali and other suburbs on the eastern outskirts of Mosul, which are now under the control of the Iraq's security forces.

Winter is coming

Sultan Ghassem, a 47-year-old metalworker from Gogjali, left his home three days ago and spent two nights camped near the frontlines before arriving at Hasansham on Friday.

"We left home to escape the mortars falling all around us. When we left Mosul and came here, it felt like passing from the darkness into the light," he told UNHCR staff.

"For the last two years we haven't had even the basics of life, only oppression. There was no money, no work. We sold everything we owned just to eat. The only reason nothing happened to me is because I stayed in my home all the time."

Hasansham camp - one of 11 that UNHCR has planned for in response to the huge displacement expected - will ultimately have capacity to shelter 11,000 people.

By mid-December the UNHCR aims to have tents ready for 300,000 people in Iraq.

However, its emergency response remains less than half funded and $60 million is specifically needed to provide urgent winter provisions as temperatures drop.