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UN Reports Steady Increase in Mosul Displaced

Iraqi citizens who fled the fighting between Islamic State militants and the Iraqi forces, carry boxes of aid supplies, at a camp for internally displaced people, in Khazer, east of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 21, 2016.

The United Nations has reported a steady increase in the number of Iraqis displaced by the military operation to retake control of the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State militants.

That fighting has been going on for more than a month with Iraqi security forces, Kurdish fighters and Shi'ite militias advancing from the city's outskirts towards the center. Islamic State has held Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, for more than two years.

The U.N.'s humanitarian office said in its latest report that 68,550 people have been displaced, with 14,000 of those coming in the past week. It warned that as fighting gets into more densely populated sections of Mosul there could be a much larger flow of people fleeing the city.

The Iraqi Red Crescent put the total number of displaced at more than 85,000.

Both organizations say they are doing what they can to get food and health aid to those in need.

"Humanitarian needs are severe among displaced families in and out of camps, vulnerable residents of retaken communities, and people fleeing the intense fighting in Mosul city," the U.N. said.

It also said snipers are targeting civilians within Mosul, and that as the fighting moved closer to the city's center there has been an increasing number of people who need trauma care or to be sent to advanced health care facilities.

The U.N. says it has space for about 60,000 people in camps and is trying to expand that number, but it also facing difficulties in some areas because of the presence of roadside bombs.