‘Huge concern’ as number of civilians displaced from Mosul reaches 200,000

‘Huge concern’ as number of civilians displaced from Mosul reaches 200,000
The number of refugees fleeing Mosul continues to escalate as the Iraqi government makes significant gains in its battle against Islamic State in the city. With more than 200,000 escapees since last October, it is now on the verge of a humanitarian disaster.

“Forty-five thousand people have left their houses in the last nine days. The numbers are expected to increase – there is huge concern for them. All organizations are working overtime to expand the available camps, and to build new ones,” Hala Jaber, a spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration – which calculated the 200,000 figure using its complex Displacement Tracking Matrix – told RT.

‘People are terrified’: Mosul aid workers struggle to cope with numbers fleeing ISIS & govt air strikes https://on.rt.com/84sj 

Photo published for We are struggling to cope with numbers fleeing ISIS & govt air strikes – Mosul aid worker to RT —...

We are struggling to cope with numbers fleeing ISIS & govt air strikes – Mosul aid worker to RT —…

Humanitarian organizations are in a state of “continuous crisis” with thousands fleeing Iraq’s second-biggest city of Mosul daily, as the government offensive, backed by a US-led coalition air force,…

rt.com

More than half of those who have fled are children and the majority of the rest women. The UN estimated at the end of February, that 250,000 people could leave the city in the coming weeks – home to about 750,000 before the siege.

Iraq’s minister of displacement and migration said there was a “shortfall” in the work of international agencies in coping with the mass exodus.

But the IOM, an inter-governmental body, which is one of the major organizations attempting to solve the ongoing crisis, alongside the UN Refugee Agency, says there’s been a lack of cooperation from Iraqi authorities.

“There was no humanitarian corridor set up when the operation to retake west Mosul started, and that was a decision taken by the Iraqi government,” said Jaber, via video link from Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan. “However, every single time the government advances into an area, it allows the civilians to evacuate.”

But staying inside the city – as the number of strikes by the US-led international air force increases, and shelling from ground artillery continues – is also a gamble.

There are also fears that the battle could morph into a kind of urban warfare, where civilians are more at risk and combatants can hide more easily amongst civilians. Once the attackers are in the old city, where about 2,000 to 5,000 Islamic State fighters are thought to be retreating, jihadists could, and are already, using residents as human shields. There have also been accusations that terrorists are engaging in chemical warfare.

The government has cut off all paths around the city, while inside there are severe shortages of water, food, essential medicines, as well as electricity outages.

Although some areas have been fully liberated, in other regions, thousands of residents have simply desperately dashed across live battlefields, often with white cloths tied to their clothes, to reach the Iraqi front lines.

‘We’re scared both of ISIS & liberators’: RT meets refugees who escaped crossfire (EXCLUSIVE) https://on.rt.com/84r7 

But even if what awaits them is an overcrowded camp, its likely to be a worthwhile gamble – with no quick resolution to the battle which involves an estimated 100,000 attackers, in sight.

“We are well prepared for this. But so are [the Islamic State militants]. This is our most difficult fight,” an unnamed Iraqi general told the Guardian. “There was a road to the west that we expected to see them flee to. Some have and have been rounded up. But not as many as we thought. The rest want to stay and die.”

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‘They destroyed our homes, injured our kids’: Sanaa residents speak of horror of Saudi bombings

‘They destroyed our homes, injured our kids’: Sanaa residents speak of horror of Saudi bombings
Residents of one neighborhood in Sanaa say it has been hit by 37 bombs and rockets from the Saudi-led coalition since Riyadh began intervening in Yemen. They have nobody to help them in the dire situation, they told Ruptly news agency.

“Our homes were destroyed because of the aggression and we didn’t receive help from anyone, no one provided us with mattresses, blankets or food. We have absolutely nothing left inside our houses. All this because of the aggression,” one resident said.

Another said their home was destroyed by three rockets during a raid.

“Once we were hit by the rockets we started running away and everything was destroyed. There was fire and then we were homeless and lost everything and it started raining. We lost everything because of this aggression,” she said. “What did we do to deserve this, to be shelled? They destroyed our homes and injured our kids.”

One man said almost three dozen houses have been destroyed by the coalition in the Al-Masanie neighborhood, and many survivors have nowhere to live now.

“Some people rented other houses and some other living in tents. Their situation is so bad especially since there is no income anymore. Those families’ situation is miserable,” he said.

“The situation in this neighborhood is very bad,” another person said. “For more than a year they were targeted by rockets launched by fighter jets, which belongs to the alliance, the Saudi-American alliance. The houses were destroyed and people are living in a miserable situation.”

Since March 2015, when Riyadh sent its troops to prop up a pro-Saudi president ousted by rebel forces, an estimated 10,200 people have been killed in Yemen fighting. Up to three million were displaced, bringing the already-destitute Arab country to the brink of a humanitarian disaster.

Civilians in Yemen are suffering from a lack of basic supplies, including food, medicine, and fuel, partially due to a Saudi naval and air blockade. Civil rights groups say the Saudi intervention in the country may amount to war crimes.

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Grandson of pilot who nuked Hiroshima now 2nd in command of US long-range bombers

Grandson of pilot who nuked Hiroshima now 2nd in command of US long-range bombers
The grandson of Paul Tibbets Jr., the pilot who dropped the notorious ‘Little Boy’ bomb on Hiroshima in 1945, killing as many as 90,000 people, has been promoted to second-in-command of the US Air Force’s nuclear-capable long-range bombers.

Brigadier General Paul W. Tibbets IV has been promoted to vice commander of the US Air Force’s Global Strike Command (AFGSC), headquartered at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, the Pentagon said.

The newly-appointed officer is the grandson of Brigadier General Paul Tibbets Jr., who piloted the B-29 bomber – its notorious nickname, ‘Enola Gay,’ chosen after Tibbets’ mother – which dropped the Little Boy uranium bomb over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Deployment of the Little Boy marked the first of two atomic bombs used in warfare, with the second one being dropped on Nagasaki, just 560 miles from Hiroshima.

At least 90,000 people are believed to have been killed in the inferno, and many others died from radiation sickness, burns, and other injuries during the months that followed, as well as illness and malnutrition. As many as 40,000 died in Nagasaki.

Tibbets IV has been transferred to the Global Strike Command after serving as the commander of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, the same bomber detachment his grandfather served in.

Though most victims in both cities were civilians, the new vice commander of the AFGSC claimed the nuclear bombings were a military necessity.

“These events laid the groundwork for strategic deterrence today,” he told Air Force Times on the 70th anniversary of the bombing in 2015. “Through a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent, we have avoided the actual employment of those types of weapons since 1945,” he added.

According to the official explanation, the bombings were necessary to force the Japanese Empire into unconditional surrender, thus sparing US soldiers from having to invade mainland Japan, which would have cost many lives. However, some experts argue that the first-ever use of nuclear weapons was to intimidate the Soviet Union.

The US has never offered formal apologies for the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings, though in May last year, Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit Hiroshima. Speaking at the cenotaph monument to the victims of the Little Boy bomb, he simply stated that “we come to ponder the terrible force unleashed in a not-so-distant past… we come to mourn the dead.”

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