As Mosul Invasion Looms, Growing Fear of Refugee Exodus

UN Warns Worst-Case Scenario Is Catastrophic

With ISIS building walls and moats around Mosul, and the US and Iraq getting an ever-growing collection of factions into the region, there is an expectation that the invasion of the city, ISIS’ largest, could begin within a matter of weeks. What happens then is anyone’s guess, but whatever it is, it’s going to involve problems.

The biggest problem which the invading forces don’t appear to be planning for is the likely exodus of refugees as the invasion turns into a bloody urban battle with heavy US airstrikes, artillery shelling, and ISIS firing its makeshift chemical weapons about.

The UN is warning that the worst-case scenario would be hundreds of thousands fleeing the city, along with hundreds of thousands trapped in the city as human shields. They’re also warning they need about $1 billion to take care of the displaced, money they simply don’t have.

Turkey, which is still trying to force its way into the invasion, says they believe a “botched” invasion would result in a massive refugee crisis. They seemed to present this as something that would only happen in the case of a mistake made by Iraq’s invasion force.

In reality, the invasion of significant cities in Iraq, still smaller than Mosul, has pretty much always resulted in major problems with large numbers of people displaced over the long term and no real effort made to support them. This has been worsened by religious persecution in Iraq, as Sunni refugees from conquered ISIS territory often are not welcomed into Shi’ite government-held areas, forcing them to flee back into ISIS territory.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.