On June 12, an estimated 500,000 people reportedly fled Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul – a commercial hub that has a population of about 2 million – after armed opposition groups took control of the city. People have fled from the west to the east of the city, to other parts of Ninewah Governorate, and to the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KRG) while fighting and indiscriminate shelling is continuing in several areas of the country.
This massive population displacement, which began in Anbar Governorate at the end of 2013 and expanded to Mosul last week, stems from a violent conflict between the Iraqi army and opposition armed groups.
As a result of the intensifying conflict within the governorate of Anbar, over 400,000 people had already been displaced over the past six months, and are still in dire need of assistance and emergency medical care. Heavy shelling has been occurring in and around the city of Fallujah and in some parts of Ramadi.
As the violence intensifies, the situation is becoming of increasing concern. MSF is reporting that the most urgent needs appear to be water, shelter and food. Currently, people are staying in schools, mosques and unfinished buildings, or with their extended families. The sanitation in these situations is often poor, and it is extremely challenging to provide urgent and necessary medical services due to the very difficult security situation.
Over the past week, the city of Tikrit has been under heavy airstrikes. Fighting on the ground in the city and surrounding areas has also been reported in the last few days. Access to all services is becoming more and more complicated. Most of the medical staff has left the city and the general population -- including IDPs -- is unable to leave due to the security situation. MSF staff are reporting that there is no fuel or electricity available.
Medical facilities under fire
On June 13, MSF’s clinic in Tikrit was hit and severely damaged during indiscriminate shelling of the city, thereby preventing provision of medical care to around 40,000 people. Nobody was hurt or injured in the attack: MSF had only recently set up this clinic with the Directorate of Health, and was not expecting to receive its first patients until June 15. MSF issued a press release on June 18 calling for the respect of medical facilities.
In Kirkuk, the number of people who have been displaced from their homes by the violence is on the rise. People are gathering in abandoned buildings, schools or mosques. According to the latest figures from the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI), Kirkuk has received around 23,000 internally displaced persons from the surrounding region. There are also reports that families are increasingly arriving from central Iraq.