The New York Times reports: The United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday that it was bracing to accommodate as many as 1.2 million displaced Iraqis when the battle begins to retake Mosul from Islamic State militants, who overran the northern city more than two years ago.
A spokesman for the agency, Adrian Edwards, said it was scrambling to build encampments in six locations in northern Iraq to handle such an influx, which could inflate the country’s displaced-person population by more than a third. Mr. Edwards also said that “other shelter options are being prepared.”
His announcement, at a regular news briefing in Geneva, the refugee agency’s headquarters, did not necessarily signify an imminent military operation to seize Mosul, about 250 miles north of Baghdad.
But the announcement provided detail on the efforts to prepare for enormous new pressure on the Iraqi government to house and feed hundreds of thousands of Mosul residents when the fighting starts.
“The humanitarian impact of a military offensive there is expected to be enormous,” Mr. Edwards said in remarks posted on the refugee agency’s website.
The Iraqi government has been warning for months that the battle to retake Mosul is coming. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of Iraq said at a news conference in Baghdad that “Mosul will be liberated in 2016.” [Continue reading…]