A UN representative said the government body is expecting huge numbers of refugees to flee the Iraqi city of Mosul when government forces mount an offensive to retake the city from Daesh militants, Reuters reported on Monday.
Bruno Geddo, a representative for UNHCR in Iraq, told Reuters the agency was preparing potential sites for new camps in anticipation for the exodus, adding the agency will not have enough room for all people they expect to be displaced.
"This time the humanitarian community is acutely aware that there will be no justification if we are caught unprepared again," Geddo told Reuters in an interview. "This will probably entail massive civilian displacement."
An estimated 1 million Iraqis remained in Mosul after the city was overrun by Daesh militants in June 2014. Those civilians are now banned from leaving by the militant group.
Geddo warned against calls made by officials in Baghdad and autonomous Kurdistan urging internal refugees to return to areas retaken from Daesh, citing concerns over stability.
"If there is still total destruction and complete insecurity or lack of acceptance for returning IDPs on the part of those who remained behind, returns, which should be the corollary of reconciliation, could actually end up creating even more tension and therefore it would defeat the purpose," Geddo told Reuters.
The anticipated offensive on Mosul has been repeatedly pushed back as Iraqi forces have been unprepared and bogged down by fighting in other regions of the country. According to Reuters, an official date has not been announced.
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