Baghdad, Feb 12: Up to 300,000 people fled their homes in two major cities in Iraq after six weeks of fighting between anti-government militants and security forces, the UN’s refugee agency said Wednesday.
“Over the last six weeks up to 300,000 Iraqis, some 50,000 families, have been displaced due to insecurity around Fallujah and Ramadi,” Xinhua reported citing a UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) statement.
Both the cities are in Iraq’s Anbar province.
“Most of the displaced have fled to the outlying communities in Anbar to escape the fighting, while 60,000 persons have fled to more distant provinces,” the statement quoted UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming as saying at a press briefing in Geneva.
The latest figures of displaced people in Iraq come at a time when the country still has 1.1 million people who were displaced from their homes by the violence and sectarian strife, the statement said.
Anbar province has witnessed fierce clashes that flared up after Iraqi police dismantled an anti-government protest site outside Ramadi in late December last year.
Sunnis in the region have been carrying out a year-long protest, accusing the Shiite-led government of marginalising them and its Shiite-dominated security forces of indiscriminately arresting, torturing and killing their relatives.