UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has opened a new camp, Hasansham U2, to house thousands of newly-displaced Iraqis who continue to flee the military offensive in western Mosul. The first busloads with packed with around 150 people began arriving at the camp on Tuesday.
The camp is the latest to be built by UNHCR and its partners in response to the Mosul emergency. Just under a month ago, Hammam al-Alil 2 displacement camp opened, with capacity for 30,000 people. The camp is now almost full.
Each household arriving at Hasansham U2, depending on family size, will receive a tent and other basic items including blankets, mats, a cooker, jerry cans, plastic sheeting and a kitchen set. As of today, some 1,000 tents are ready, enough to shelter around 6,000 individuals. Hasansham U2 has total capacity to accommodate more than 9,000 people when fully occupied.
“We escaped heavy bombing back in Mosul”, said Khdir, from Hirmat neighbourhood, West Mosul, who arrived at the camp today. “We had no services, no food and no water”, he said. “We managed to escape when we heard airplanes overhead. We knew it was safer to try to run away then.”
UNHCR’s Iraq Representative, Bruno Geddo, said: “More than six months since start of the military offensive in Mosul, there is still massive displacement. Despite the enormous risks, the number of people fleeing West Mosul shows no sign of slowing down,” he said.
“We still fear more large outflows of people from the west of the city, which is why UNHCR and partners continue to prepare new camps ready to receive those fleeing Mosul, who are desperately in need of assistance”, Geddo added.
According to government figures, cumulatively, more than 610,000 people have been displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas since October, when the military offensive began, including 434,000 individuals displaced from western Mosul since mid-February. An estimated 132,000 people have since returned to their areas of origin.
Families who have fled western Mosul speak of worsening conditions as fighting has intensified, with extreme shortages of food, fuel and water. Hasansham U2 is one of 12 camps UNHCR has built in order to respond to the large-scale displacement from Mosul and surrounding areas. Another camp, Al Salamiyah 2, with capacity for up to 60,000 people, is under construction.