The UNHCR Warns of Massive Displacement as 14,000 Flee Mosul
More than 14,000 Iraqis have fled their homes and registered in IDP camps following renewed fighting between the Iraqi Security Forces and ISIS southeast of Mosul, according to the UNHCR.
ISIS has occupied Mosul for two years, since June 2014. People have been evacuating ISIS-controlled areas southeast of Mosul on a daily basis since late March, said the UNHCR, and often face dangerous journeys before arriving in safer areas.
“There are no safe route for IDPs escaping the violence, and families use secondary routes, mostly at night, crossing dangerous terrain,” said Frédéric Cussigh, head of the field response unit in the Erbil governorate. “There are reports that some IDPs are trapped, severely injured or killed in minefields on their way to safety.”
As security forces move closer to Iraq’s second biggest city, the UNHCR has warned of “massive displacement, upwards of 600,000 people,” while IDP camps set up to receive those fleeing ISIS-controlled areas have reached maximum capacity.
“UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies have been drawing up contingency plans to respond,” said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
UNICEF: 9 out of 10 Children Traveling from Africa to Europe ‘Unaccompanied’
More than 9 out of 10 refugee and migrant minors traveling to Europe from North Africa are unaccompanied, UNICEF announced in a report published on Tuesday. The agency reported that the children face “appalling” risks of abuse, exploitation and death.
Some 7,009 unaccompanied minors crossed from North Africa to Italy by sea in the first five months of 2016, more than twice as many during the same period last year, the report said.
Children rely on human smugglers for their journey, often through a “pay as you go system,” putting them at risk for exploitation including “rape, forced labor, beatings and death,” UNICEF said.
“If you try to run, they shoot you and you die. If you stop working, they beat you. It was just like the slave trade,” 16-year-old Aimamo told UNICEF. He and his twin brother were forced to work on a farm in Libya for two months to pay smugglers.
“Italian social workers claim that both boys and girls are sexually assaulted and forced into prostitution while in Libya, and that some of the girls were pregnant when they arrived in Italy, having been raped,” UNICEF said.
UNICEF spokeswoman Sarah Crowe that the majority of unaccompanied children were boys aged 15 to 17, and came from Somalia, Nigeria and Eritrea, according to the Associated Press. Boys and girls were fleeing prostitution, pedophilia rings and gang violence, Crowe added.
UNICEF said that it could not determine why there has been such an increase in the number of minors arriving unaccompanied. The International Organization for Migration announced Sunday that 210,000 migrants arrived in Europe by sea this year. Roughly one in three was a child, according to UNICEF.
UNHCR Urges International Donors to Fulfill Syrian Refugee Pledge
The UNHCR has warned of a “collective failure” in the response to the Syrian refugee crisis, with international donors falling short on pledges to ease the burden on frontline states in the Middle East.
At the Supporting Syria and the Region conference in London in February, the wealthiest world powers offered $11 billion to states most heavily affected by the crisis.
Four months later, however, only $2.5 billion has been distributed – less than a quarter of the pledged amount. These pledges include loans and grants for specific uses such as scholarships in addition to straightforward humanitarian aid but are not enough to address the scale of the situation, warned the U.N.
“So I think there’s a collective failure that will have to addressed,” Amin Awad, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in an interview with Agence France-Presse.
Frontline countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are struggling with the millions who have fled Syria. Five million people are still at risk in the region.
“I think the frontline states are disappointed and they feel they’re left alone,” he said while in Washington to meet U.S. officials and experts.
- The Guardian: Through Jungle Eyes: Snapshots of Life from the Infamous Calais Refugee Camp – in Pictures
- BBC: Making a Living on Syria’s Refugee Trail
- Middle East Eye: Ramadan in No-Man’s Land: Refugees on the run in Serbia
- Daily Nation (Kenya): We are Tired of Camp Life, Somali Refugees Say as 237 More Leave Dadaab
- Reuters: As Migrant Toll Rises, IOM Urges Action to Identify Victims
- Ekathimerini: Want to Save Migrants in the Mediterranean? There’s an App for That