U.N. Warns Over 1 Million Could Be Displaced by Mosul Offensive
Up to 1.2 million people may be displaced by an upcoming military effort to recapture the Iraqi city of Mosul from the so-called Islamic State militant group, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) warned.
“In Mosul, we believe the displacement situation may be about to dramatically worsen,” UNHCR spokesman Adrian Edwards told reporters on August 23.
U.S.-backed Iraqi and Kurdish forces are gradually advancing toward Mosul, and the final offensive is expected in September or October. The city, once home to over 2 million people, is the largest under ISIS control.
Some 48,000 people have already fled Mosul and its environs, among some 3.4 million individuals displaced by conflict in Iraq.
UNHCR says it has struggled to secure land for displacement camps in Iraq to cope with the expected exodus from Mosul, and is exploring different shelter options. The agency’s $584 million appeal for Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people is only 38 percent funded.
Kenya Backtracks on Camp Closure, U.S. Gives Aid
Kenya softened its threat to shut down Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited the country.
In May, Kenya pledged to close the camp – home to over 300,000 refugees, mostly from Somalia – by November 2016.
Kenyan interior minister Joseph Nkaissery said August 21 that the government would not shut down the camp until the situation is more stable in Somalia, which is fighting an insurgency by the al-Shabaab militant group.
The following day, Kerry arrived in Kenya for talks on conflicts in the region and U.S.-Kenyan relations.
During his visit, the U.S. announced $146 million in humanitarian assistance for refugees in Kenya, victims of a drought in Kenya and Somalia, and to support the voluntary return of refugees to Somalia.
Kenya has threatened to shut down Dadaab several times in the past, before later shifting its position.
Germany Agrees to Take in Hundreds of Refugees Stranded in Italy
Germany will soon start accepting hundreds of refugees and migrants stranded in Italy due to border closures, says Italy’s interior minister Angelino Alfano.
Italy hopes the move will kickstart last year’s European Commission plan to relocate 160,000 people arriving in Italy and Greece to other European countries. So far, fewer than 4,000 people have been transferred under the deal, around 900 of them from Italy.
“Up until now, the relocation has been a real flop,” Alfano told Italian TV station la Repubblica.
At least 140,000 people are living in migrant shelters in Italy. Hundreds of people have sheltered near Italy’s northern border with Switzerland in recent weeks after authorities tightened the border.
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