UNHCR representative: 'We're preparing for a catastrophe after Mosul'

UNHCR representative: 'We're preparing for a catastrophe after Mosul'
Bruno Geddo spoke with The New Arab and warned of the effects of a premature attack on IS and the socio-economic disaster it could create.
2 min read
24 September, 2016
Experts have warned that refugee camps in the region surrounding Mosul are not yet prepared[Getty]

UNHCR's representative in Iraq has warned of an impending humanitarian 'catastrophe', if plans to attack Mosul go ahead as planned in October.

Bruno Geddo told The New Arab that his agency was preparing to build shelters for 660,000 people, short of the 700,000 refugees expected in an upcoming offensive, but that they wouldn't be ready until Christmas.

"There will be a humanitarian catastrophe if the offensive happens at the end of October," Geddo told The New Arab.

"Half the tents are not ready and the sheer magnitude of the numbers of people coming out of Mosul will create big problems."

There are currently 3.4 million Iraqis who are unable to return to their homes and experts anticipate that any future attack against IS territory might create another 700,000 refugees in the region.

To meet this potential influx of new refugees, UNHCR has been sourcing tens of thousands of new accommodation kits and petitioning local government to expand their refugee camps.

"We expect to have 30,000 tents, 30,000 rudimentary shelters and 50,000 emergency centre kits," said Geddo, "Each unit can house six people, so we hope to have enough shelters for 660,000 people by December.

"We have been underfunded for some time and we need an additional 18,000 tents however."

To enable this camp expansion however, UNHCR needs government approval.

"We have been advocating for more land to build more tents on," said Geddo, "We have been asking the Kurdish and Iraqi governments for some time to let us expand our camps.

"The Kurdish government has been extremely generous however, as they have very few resources to give out in the first place, whilst the government of Iraq has promised to provide shelter for 25,000 families."

Michael Fallon, the British defence minister, today announced that coalition forces would launch a 'final battle' against IS 'by Christmas', however a number of experts expect the attack to occur before mid-October.

Reporters who visited the UNHCR refugee camp in Debaga, where the majority of refugees are expected to attend, recently found that conditions in the camp were less than perfect, as some refugees were forced to sleep on the ground and food levels were low.