NEARLY 80,000 FLEE IRAQ’S MOSUL AS FIGHTING RAGES: IOM

GENEVA, -- Some 77,826 civilians have fled Mosul and its adjacent districts since Iraq's military operations to recapture Mosul, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported Friday.

"We are deeply concerned about both the displaced and host communities' ability to cope with the winter weather," IOM Iraq Chief of Mission Thomas Lothar Weiss said in a statement.

"Now that the rains have begun, people living in makeshift shelters or unfinished buildings are at risk from the cold, damp weather, which is affecting their health and wellbeing, particularly the elderly and children," he added.

According to the organization's latest statistics, 80 percent of those recently displaced by military operations are living in formal camps.

A further 14 percent have taken shelter in private settings, while five percent are in critical shelter arrangements and one percent is passing through screening sites.

Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has distributed over 8,000 kits containing blankets and quilts to recently retaken towns and villages to the east of Mosul.

A further 3,500 kits will be delivered to families living in the area over the coming days, the agency added.

On Oct. 17, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of a major offensive to retake Mosul, the country's second largest city, in a bid to liberate the northern Iraqi city, the last major Daesh stronghold in Iraq.

Mosul, some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has been under Daesh control since June 2014.

The UN Refugee Agency had warned prior to the military campaign that as many as 1.2 million civilians could be displaced by the fighting.

Source: Nam News Network