Thousands Flee Fallujah as Iraq Army Secures Safe Exit
by Sharon Behn June 13, 2016
Thousands of refugees are pouring out of Fallujah through a
safe exit corridor secured by the Iraqi army as the fight to retake the
city from Islamic State extremists rages into its third week.
According to Lise Grande, the UN humanitarian coordinator for
Iraq, 3,300 people fled Monday, joining another 4,000 who escaped during
Thousands more are expected to make the journey in the coming days, overwhelming humanitarian efforts to help them.
Most of the civilians fleeing the fighting are going into 27
camps housing displaced people from other parts of Iraq's Anbar
"The problem is, the camps are full," Grande said.
There is a massive effort underway to catch up, with various
U.N. agencies and non-governmental organizations working to build new
camps, while providing food, safe drinking water, latrines, mobile
clinics, and help for women who have suffered violence by IS extremists.
"We underestimated how difficult conditions were in Fallujah
itself," Grande said, adding there were reports that "families have been
brutalized, women have been brutalized, children have been brutalized."
More refugees expected
According to the United Nations, 43,000 people have run away
from the city, despite the dangers of roadside bombs or being killed by
Islamic State fighters.
The sudden rush out came after Iraqi forces, working with local
tribal fighters, opened one safe exit corridor for civilians. They are
now fighting to open up a second.
Between 40,000 and 50,000 additional people could still be
trapped in the city center, Grande told reporters in a live broadcast