Geneva, 30 Sya’ban 1435/28 June 2014 (MINA) – The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says up to 10,000 people from a Christian town in northern Iraq have been forced out of their homes.
UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming made the remarks at a press conference in Geneva on Friday, Press TV quoted by Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) as reporting, Saturday.
The refugees’ massive influx intensified after Takfiri militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fired mortar shells against Qaraqosh, also known as al-Hamdaniya in Nineveh province.
The UNHCR spokeswoman said many of them have fled to the Kurdistan region, which is already hosting an estimated 300,000 people from Mosul and other areas.
“They fled by bus, car and taxi into Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region on Wednesday night,” Fleming said, adding, “Many are women and children staying with families, relatives and in schools and community centers, mostly in Erbil.
They tell us they fled in a big rush, and didn’t bring many belongings with them so that is a sign of how afraid they are.”
An estimated 1.2 million people have been displaced in Iraq so far this year, according to the UN.
Violence in Iraq escalated after the ISIL militants took control of Mosul, in a lightning advance on June 10, which was followed by the fall of Tikrit, located 140 kilometers (87 miles) northwest of the capital Baghdad.
The ISIL has vowed to continue its raid towards the capital Baghdad. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has said that the country’s security forces would confront the terrorists, calling the seizure of Mosul a “conspiracy”.
Soldiers of the Iraqi army have been engaged in heavy fighting with the militants in different fronts and have so far been able to push back militants in several areas. (T/P012/E01)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)