Oct 22, 2016
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and its partners in Duhok have begun to help the first influx of displaced Iraqis fleeing villages near Mosul, as a government offensive to re-take Iraq’s second-largest city continues.
On Friday, 144 people, mostly women and children, arrived at UNHCR’s newly-built Zelikan camp, in Sheikhan district, after being security-screened at the Nargizlia screening centre, about 40 km away.
UNHCR distributed the full package of emergency relief items to new arrivals through its partners, including mattresses, hygiene kits, blankets, kitchen sets, and each family was assigned a tent. Children were vaccinated for measles on arrival by Department of Health staff.
Djamal Zamoum, UNHCR’S Emergency Field Co-ordinator said: “The response is working well thanks to close collaboration with partners on the ground and the local authorities.”
Most of the new arrivals come from the villages of Deraj and Chanchi, north of Mosul. They said they had been trapped in their houses for two days as fighting continued between Kurdish Peshmerga forces and armed groups.
Zahra Ibrahim, 60 years old from Deraj, who fled with five of her family members said: “Just before we left our village to come to the camp, hails of bullets were flying around, we are very happy to be in the camp now, this is the first time we have had a peaceful sleep in two years.” She added: “we are thankful for the support we received, we were given good food, fresh water, mattresses and tents.”
An estimated 300 persons are expected to arrive at the reception centre in the coming hours as people continue to flee the conflict zone looking for safety.
More tents will be erected at the newly-built Zelikan camp as more families are expected in the coming days.
Zelikan camp can house over 6,000 people. A second newly-built UNHCR camp, Amalla, in Zummar sub-district, is capable of housing around 18,000 people. They are among the 11 camps UNHCR is preparing in anticipation of large-scale displacement from Mosul that will have a total capacity of up to 120,000 people by year’s end.
UNHCR is securing a total of 50,000 tents and 50,000 emergency shelter kits for families on the move.
With full funding and readiness, the UN refugee agency will be able to provide a range of shelter options inside and outside camps for up to 600,000 people. However, UNHCR has only received 48% ($95 million) of funds required for its Mosul emergency work, costed at $196.2million, and is appealing to donors for additional help.
Next week, UNHCR is organising airlifts to Erbil International Airport to bring 7,000 family tents from warehouses in Dubai and Amman.