Displaced Iraqis Reach 3m

Displaced Iraqis Reach 3mDisplaced Iraqis Reach 3m

The number of displaced people registered by the Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displacement has reached three million, a government official said Sunday.

Asghar al-Mosawi, deputy minister of the migration and displacement ministry, told agencies that the number of displaced people has increased recently due to clashes between security forces and IS militants in the western province of Anbar.

In April, the Iraqi government registered 2.7 million displaced people in Diyala, Anbar, Salaheddin and Nineveh provinces, World Bulletin reported.

Human Rights Watch also said in a report on its website that Iraqi authorities are preventing thousands of families in Anbar capital, Ramadi, to flee the fighting and reach safer parts of the country.  

The report said the government of Iraq has primary responsibility for protecting internally displaced people and should allow those fleeing danger in Ramadi or elsewhere to enter safer areas.

Since April 2015, the government imposed restrictions on entry into Baghdad and Babylon provinces affecting just under 200,000 people fleeing clashes between IS extremists and government and tribal forces in Ramadi.

Kurdish authorities are also imposing restrictions on people trying to enter by land areas under their control. Thousands of people remain stranded in Anbar, putting them at risk should there be a further advance by IS.

“International law prohibits ethnic and religious discrimination even in times of conflict,” said Joe Stork, HRW deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi should immediately order these restrictions lifted so that all Iraqis can seek refuge in Baghdad, regardless of origin or religious affiliation.”

When Ramadi fell to IS on May 17, 69,000 people fled, according to the United Nations. Within one day, Baghdad authorities closed the bridge entirely, even to those with a sponsor, leaving thousands stranded, before reinstating the sponsorship system a few days later, Abu Lujan, an electricity worker who fled Ramadi in May, told Human Rights Watch.

 American Humvees into IS Hands

Iraqi security forces lost 2,300 Humvee armored vehicles when IS insurgents overran the northern city of Mosul, Abadi said on Sunday.

“In the collapse of Mosul, we lost a lot of weapons,” Abadi said in an interview with Iraqiya state TV. “We lost 2,300 Humvees in Mosul alone.”

While the exact price of the vehicles varies depending on how they are armored and equipped, it is clearly a hugely expensive loss that has boosted IS capabilities.

Last year, the US State Department approved a possible sale to Iraq of 1,000 Humvees with increased armor, machineguns, grenade launchers, other gear and support that were estimated to cost $579 million.

Clashes began in Mosul, Iraq’s second city, late on June 9, 2014, and Iraqi forces lost it the following day to IS, which spearheaded an offensive that overran much of the country’s Sunni Arab heartland.

The militants gained ample arms, ammunition and other equipment when multiple Iraqi divisions fell apart in the country’s north, abandoning gear and shedding uniforms in their haste to flee.

IS has used captured Humvees, which were provided to Iraq by the US, in subsequent fighting, rigging some with explosives for suicide bombings.

Iraqi security forces backed by Shia militias have regained significant ground from IS in Diyala and Salaheddin provinces north of Baghdad. But that momentum was slashed in mid-May when IS overran Ramadi, west of Baghdad, where Iraqi forces had held out against militants for more than a year.