Hundreds suffer from food poisoning in camp near Mosul

Iraqi officials say about 800 people fell ill from an iftar meal in an IDP camp outside northern city of Mosul.

General view of Al-Khazer refugee camp, east of Mosul
More than 750,000 people have been displaced from Mosul since October [File: Thaier Al-Sudaini/Reuters]

About 800 people have fallen ill after suffering food poisoning in a camp for displaced Iraqis east of the northern city Mosul, officials said.

People started vomiting and some fainted after eating the fast-breaking iftar meal on Monday, politician Zahed Khatoun, a member of the Iraqi parliament’s committee for displaced people, told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

The Iraqi Red Crescent had said on Tuesday that a woman and a child had died due to the outbreak, while UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported the death of a six-year-old girl earlier on Tuesday.

UNHCR has since said that no one has died as a result of the outbreak, despite its earlier report.

“We are now informed that this information was incorrect – that in fact, there currently have been no fatalities as a result of the incident,” UNHCR said in a statement.

A non-governmental organisation delivered the food, which included rice, yogurt, chicken and soup, to the Hasansham U2 camp from a restaurant in Ebril, according to reports. 

The Kurdish news agency Rudaw, citing Erbil’s mayor, said the owner of the restaurant that made the food had been arrested.

Authorities have launched a formal investigation into the incident, officials said. 

The camp is in al-Khazer on the road linking Mosul and Erbil and houses those displaced due to the ongoing offensive to retake Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

According to the UN refugee agency, more than 6,000 people currently live inside the camp. 

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A US-backed military operation to retake ISIL’s last three remaining enclaves outside Mosul’s Old City began last month – the latest push in a major operation that began in October.

Aid groups have repeatedly expressed their concerns over the safety of hundreds of thousands of civilians who have been forced to flee and are at risk of being caught in the crossfire.

Almost 10,000 people fled from Mosul’s northwest and the Old City every day during the last week of May, the UN said. 

More than 750,000 people have been displaced from the city since October.

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Source: News Agencies