Middle East

UN says Mosul displacement gathering pace as Iraq battles IS

  • Displaced Iraqis, fleeing fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants, ride on a bus to the Hassan Sham camp, east of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

    Displaced Iraqis, fleeing fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants, ride on a bus to the Hassan Sham camp, east of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)  (The Associated Press)

  • Displaced Iraqi children, fleeing fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants, are loaded into the back of a truck before being taken to the Hassan Sham camp, east of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

    Displaced Iraqi children, fleeing fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants, are loaded into the back of a truck before being taken to the Hassan Sham camp, east of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)  (The Associated Press)

  • A displaced Iraqi girl, who fled fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants, balances on a swing at the Hassan Sham camp, east of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

    A displaced Iraqi girl, who fled fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants, balances on a swing at the Hassan Sham camp, east of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, March 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)  (The Associated Press)

The United Nations says around 45,000 people have fled the fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants in western Mosul over the past week, a 22 percent increase from the previous week.

The U.N. humanitarian aid office said Wednesday that the latest wave brought the total number of people displaced from western Mosul to about 135,000. OCHA says camp construction and site expansion "are accelerating to meet needs."

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces launched an operation on Feb. 19 to drive IS from the western half of Iraq's second largest city after declaring eastern Mosul "fully liberated" the previous month.

OCHA says about 330,000 people have been displaced since the Mosul operation began in October. Of those, only 72,000 have returned.