UN warns of thousands fleeing as Iraqi forces advance on Da’esh-held Tal Afar

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UNITED NATIONS, Aug 21 (APP): The United Nations has
warned that thousands of civilians are expected to flee the town of
Tal Afar and surrounding areas, as the Iraqi security forces
began offensive to dislodge ISIL/Da’esh militants from
their last stronghold in Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh.
“Thousands of people are fleeing Tal Afar for safety,”
Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said in
a statement issued Sunday.”Families are trekking for 10 to 20
hours in extreme heat to reach mustering points. They are
arriving exhausted and dehydrated .”
More than 30,000 people have already fled the district, Ms.
Grande said, noting that it is not known how many civilians are still
in the areas where fighting is occurring, but preparation is under
way for thousands more to flee in coming days and weeks.
“Food and water are running out, and people lack the
basic necessities to survive,” she said, stressing that nothing
is more important than protecting civilians during the conflict
while urging the parties to the conflict to avoid civilian casualties.
“The Government is leading the humanitarian
operation, providing transport and aid. Humanitarian partners are
helping to cover gaps by providing life-saving assistance
at mustering points and supporting families when they reach
emergency sites and camps,” Ms. Grande said.
As of 20 August, less than 50 percent of the funding requested
in the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan for Iraq has been received,
she said, underscoring the need for additional resources.