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Thousands escape from Sinjar mountain in Iraq



Geneva, Aug 13 (IANS) Around 35,000 people have escaped from the Sinjar mountains in northwest Iraq where they were besieged by fighters from the Islamic State (IS), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said Tuesday.

The people made their way back into Dohuk governorate in the Kurdish region in the past 72 hours via Syria, and were moving to towns like Zakho and Dohuk where 16 school buildings have been made available. Food, water and medical care were also being provided, Xinhua quoted UNHCR spokesperson Adrian Edwards as saying at a press conference.

Edwards said that to date an estimated 20,000-30,000 people remain trapped on Sinjar mountain with no food, water or shelter, and access to these people was "extremely limited".

The UN refugee agency noted that Dohuk governorate was currently hosting close to 400,000 displaced Iraqis, including Yazidis, Christians, Shabak, Kakai, Armenian and Turkman minorities — some of whom have endured repeated displacement.

UNHCR data showed that another 10,000-15,000 Yazidi Iraqis fleeing Sinjar have arrived in Syria, a country itself suffering volatility.

In recent days, IS militants have stormed towns in the northern part of Iraq as it advances to other parts of the country.

Thousands of civilians — many of them from the ethnic Yazidi minority — are trapped in the Sinjar mountains where they took shelter and are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance after fleeing attacks by the militant armed group.

UNHCR said that in all, there are more than 1.2 million internally-displaced people in Iraq, including an estimated 700,000 in the Kurdistan region which already hosts some 225,000 Syrian refugees.


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