UN expects residents to start returning to Fallujah by August

Reuters , Friday 1 Jul 2016

Fallujah residents
An Iraqi soldier helps civilians, who fled from Falluja because of Islamic State (IS) group violence, during a dust storm on the outskirts of Falluja, Iraq, June 18, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)

The United Nations said Iraqi authorities will allow civilians displaced by the assault on Islamic State (IS) group-held Fallujah to start returning home as early as August.

More than 85,000 people fled their homes during a month-long campaign that ended on Sunday when Iraqi authorities declared they had completely recaptured the city, an hour's drive west of Baghdad.

A report on Thursday from the UN refugee agency UNHCR, noting the government's plans, said the level of destruction will make their return difficult in the short term and explosives would pose a hazard to residents.

The civilians at government-run camps, who make up about a third of Fallujah's total population before Islamic State took over 2-1/2 years ago, are currently relying on handouts from the United Nations and aid groups.

Lack of funding means many do not have adequate shelter, food or water amid temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit). Humanitarian agencies fear poor sanitation could spread infectious diseases like cholera and skin diseases in addition to exacerbating chronic illnesses.

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