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Rising Concern as Sectarian Fighting Targets Minorities, UN Calls for Protection of Civilians

28/06/2014 2 comments

20140628-153522-56122965.jpg I am gravely concerned at the increasingly sectarian dimension of the fighting in Iraq and continued reports that the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIL) and other armed opposition groups are persecuting members of Iraq’s religious and ethnic communities, including the Shia Muslims, Shabaks, Yezidis, Christians and Turkmen.

UNAMI’s Human Rights Office monitors all sides of the conflict and has verified reports of ISIL carrying out summary executions and abduction of members of these ethnic and religious communities. Thousands of civilians from these groups in Ninewa province, including from Qaraqosh, Tal Afar, Qaratabah and Hamdaniyah are now fleeing their homes in fear. There are also concerning reports of harassment and reprisals against Sunni Muslims by some in the Secuirty Forces and militias.

Armed opposition groups, the Iraqi Security Force and the Peshmerga are all bound by international law to protect civilians. The Government of Iraq must make sure that human rights and humanitarian law are observed in the course of counter-terrorism operations. Targeting civilians by all sides must cease immediately and urgent steps should be taken to ensure that all Iraqis, including religious and ethnic communities, and other vulnerable populations are protected from violence. Some acts may amount to war crimes under international law.