ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The UN is accelerating humanitarian aid for thousands of Iraqis returning to east Mosul after the defeat of the Islamic State (IS), a UN official said on Saturday.
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Andrei Mahecic, finding shelter for returning people is “the most pressing need.”
Government statistics indicate nearly 79,000 civilians have returned to their homes in Mosul after the area was liberated from the extremist group.
Large parts of the city have been destroyed due to fierce clashes between Iraqi security forces and IS militants, as well as regular air strikes by the US-led coalition warplanes.
Some areas of Mosul are still dangerous, with mines and unexploded ordnance posing a danger for returning residents, the UNHCR spokesman said.
He noted efforts were ongoing to ensure the city was cleared of mines and other explosives and safe for families to return.
“Given the magnitude of the problem, clearance work to remove all explosive hazards could take a very long time,” Mahecic stated.
“Returning families also face challenges in accessing basic services and utilities—accessing water, electricity or fuel in parts of Mosul can be difficult and very expensive,” he added.
Despite Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announcing victory in Mosul early last month, IS remains a threat in small areas of the city.
Mahecic said the UNHCR discussed the security and safety of civilians returning to Mosul with the Iraqi government.
Baghdad reports over 90 percent of families who had escaped east Mosul during the operation against IS have returned and need immediate support.