"Rush" to host people fleeing western Mosul in Iraq: UN official

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A nine year-old girl clutches her worn-out doll, one of the few belongings she managed to take with her when she fled with her family from Tal al-Ruman area of west Mosul, Iraq. Photo: UNHCR/Saif Al-Tatooz

Around 45,000 people are fleeing fighting in western Mosul in Iraq every week, triggering an "absolute rush" to get the displaced sites "up and running".

That's what Lise Grande, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the country, told reporters via video-conference on Thursday.

An estimated 800,000 people were living in the city before the Iraqi military forces launched an offensive to dislodge ISIL terrorists in mid-October last year.

Jocelyne Sambira has more.

So far, 120,000 civilians have "exited" western Mosul in Iraq, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq said. 

Meanwhile, 400,000 civilians remain inside what she called the "old city" where the military assault against ISIL is currently focused. 

Ms Grande said the huge numbers of people fleeing the city has left humanitarians scrambling to get shelters ready for them. 

"Because they are coming out so quickly, it really is an absolute rush in order to get the sites up. There are between southern Mosul, eastern Mosul and north of Mosul 17 separate sites that are receiving displaced families. The way it works is we are literally constructing around the clock: when a plot is ready, and there is a tent on it and there are mattresses inside and there is water and there is sanitation, we inform the military that that plot is ready." 

There is also a massive humanitarian operation underway in the eastern part of Mosul, which was liberated by the Iraqi military forces back in January, Lise Grande said. 

Since the assault on western Mosul started in February, she added, 1,000 casualties have arrived at so-called "trauma points" where patients with gunshot wounds are given emergency care and stabilized before being referred to field hospitals where they can be fully treated. 

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations. 

Duration: 1’25”

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