Red Cross warns 1M more Iraqis could flee homes amid Islamic State fight

MOSUL, Iraq, July 29 (UPI) — The Red Cross has warned up to a million more people could flee from their homes in Iraq as security forces battle the Islamic State, particularly in Mosul.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said that more than 3 million people are internally displaced in Iraq and that more than 10 million need humanitarian assistance. Iraqi security forces launched an offensive to retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State control in March.

Mosul is considered one of the most important battles in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq. U.S. President Barack Obama said he expects the city of Mosul to be retaken by the Iraqi government by the end of the year.

“If there is the predicted upsurge in violence, then the figure of internally displaced could dramatically increase,” the Red Cross said in a statement.

The humanitarian organization is also requesting an increase of $17.1 million to its current Iraq budget which will be used to supply Iraqis with food, water, medicine and other needs.

“The situation is unpredictable but we must prepare for the worst,” Robert Mardini, regional Red Cross director for the Near and Middle East, said in a statement. “There’s the likelihood that fighting will intensify, particularly in the Mosul area. Hundreds of thousands of people may very well be on the move in the coming weeks and months, seeking shelter and assistance. We need to be ready”

From 5,000 to 10,000 Islamic State militants are believed to be in Mosul — the militant organization’s headquarters in Iraq.

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