Thousands run from their homes in fear in northern Iraq

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Melissa Fleming. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

Up to 10,000 people from the predominantly Christian communities of Qaraqosh in northern Iraq have fled their homes, fearing that they were being targeted after mortar rounds landed near the town earlier this week. That's according to the United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR.

Qaraqosh is about 30 kilometres south-east of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, where armed opposition groups seized control two weeks ago.

Melissa Fleming, UNHCR's spokesperson, says that there was widespread fear:

“They fled by bus, car and taxi into Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region on Wednesday night. Many are women and children staying with families, relatives and in schools and community centres, mostly in Erbil. They tell us they fled in a big rush, and didn't bring many belongings with them so that is a sign of how afraid they are."

UNHCR and local volunteers have so far handed out quilts, mattresses, plastic sheeting and hygiene kits at schools and community centres where the displaced are sheltering. Already, some 300,000 Iraqis from Mosul’s Ninewa governorate and elsewhere have arrived in the Kurdistan region.

So far this year, an estimated 1.2 million Iraqis have been displaced by fighting.

Nicki Chadwick, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1'21"

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