ISIL captures up to 3,000 fleeing Iraqis, says UNHCR
Displaced people, who fled from Al-Shirqat due to Islamic State violence, receive aid on the outskirts of Al-Shirqat, south of Mosul. REUTERS photoThe Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters may have captured up to 3,000 fleeing Iraqi villagers on Aug. 4 and subsequently executed 12 of them, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said in a daily report on events in Iraq.
The report followed a statement on Aug. 4 from the Iraqi Observatory for Human rights, which said about 1,900 civilians had been captured by an estimated 100-120 ISIL fighters, who were using people as shields against attacks by Iraqi Security Forces. Tens of civilians had been executed, and six burnt.
“UNHCR has received reports that ISIL captured on Aug. 4 up to 3,000 IDPs [internally displaced people] from villages in Hawiga District in Kirkuk Governorate trying to flee to Kirkuk city. Reportedly, 12 of the IDPs have been killed in captivity,” the UNHCR report said, according to Reuters.
The United States is leading a military coalition conducting air strikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, where the group seized broad swathes of territory in 2014. The fighting had displaced 3.4 million people in Iraq by July 2016.
ISIL’s grip on some towns has been broken, but it still controls its de facto capitals of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria.
Last month the U.N. appealed for $284 million to prepare aid for an assault on Mosul, as well as up to $1.8 billion to deal with the aftermath.
It has so far received nothing in response, according to the U.N. Financial Tracking Service.
UNHCR has begun building a site northeast of Mosul for 6,000 people and is preparing another northwest of the city for 15,000, a fraction of those expected to need shelter.
Tens of thousands who fled from the city of Fallujah have still not returned since its recapture from ISIL in June. Three volunteers helping to clear Fallujah of rubble and explosives died while clearing a house on Aug. 1, UNHCR said.
“Although local authorities have suggested that returns to Fallujah could begin in September, the Ministry of Migration and Displacement has stated that it may take another three months before conditions are conducive for large scale returns,” it said.
But Iraqi authorities reported 300,000 displaced people had returned to Ramadi district, UNHCR said. Iraqi forces declared victory over the jihadist group in Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, in December, but later called a halt to returns after dozens of civilians were killed by mines.