GENEVA – The U.N. refugee agency expressed concern Tuesday over the increasing number of people being driven from their homes by Turkey's shelling of northern Iraq.
More than 1,800 people have fled their homes in the Sangasar sub district of Sulaimaniyah Governorate and in Doli Shahidan in Erbil Governorate last weekend, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said.
On Sunday, Turkey launched airstrikes against rebels from the Kurdish Workers' Party in northern Iraq. As many as 50 fighter jets were involved in the biggest attack on the Kurdish Workers' Party in years.
An Iraqi official said the planes attacked several villages, killing one woman. The rebels said two civilians and five rebels died.
There was more shelling and displacement on Monday, said Astrid van Genderen Stort, a spokeswoman for the High Commissioner for Refugees. Some people are leaving their homes for fear of future attacks, she added.
The displaced have found shelter with relatives and friends, but with the start of winter it is difficult for the host families to take care of additional people, van Genderen Stort said.
"Many of those displaced say they cannot afford to pay monthly rents of US$200 to US$300 (euro140 to euro210) for alternative accommodation and ... fear they cannot stay much longer with their host families," she said.
About 2.4 million people have been driven from their homes to other locations in Iraq, and an additional 2.2 million have fled to neighboring countries, most to Syria and Jordan, according to the High Commissioner for Refugees.
The agency distributed blankets, mattresses, stoves, lanterns and other relief goods on Tuesday to families most in need in Sulaimaniyah and Erbil, van Genderen Stort said.