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A humanitarian tragedy is unfolding in Sinjar, Iraq

03/08/2014 Leave a comment
Yezidis are escaping the conflict in Sinjar

Picture provided by the Yezidi Human Rights Organisation-International

A humanitarian tragedy is unfolding in Sinjar, Iraq, where ISIL’s campaign of ethnic cleansing is continuing.

The United Nations has confirmed reports that ISIL and associated armed groups have seized control of nearly all of Sinjar and Tal Afar districts in Ninewa Province, including the oil fields of Ain Zala and Batma, bordering the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. As many as 200,000 civilians, most of them from the Yezidi community, have fled to the Sinjar Mountains. We have grave concerns for the physical safety of these civilians – particularly those now trapped in Jabal Sinjar area, as it is now surrounded by ISIL militants. They are in urgent need of basic items, including water, food and medicine. The physical protection of these people is also a primary concern. We have received reports of men, women and children dying of heat exhaustion and individuals being killed by ISIL as they flee. An unknown number of civilians are also reported to have moved towards Dahuk and Zako in the Kurdistan Region.

The Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government should urgently restore their security cooperation in dealing with the crisis. Iraqi authorities, civil society and international partners to work with the United Nations to ensure the delivery of life saving humanitarian assistance. The Kurdistan Regional Government should ensure that those civilians fleeing the violence are facilitated entry to the Kurdistan Region in order to receive protection and humanitarian assistance.

My deputy, Gyorgy Busztin, met His Excellency President Fuad Ma’soum earlier today. The Iraqi Head of State shared his grave concern over the situation of minorities impacted by the ISIL takeover of significant areas in the Ninewah plain. He called it the collective responsibility of all Iraqis to assist the displaced and expressed particular concern over the fate of the minority Yezidi community.

Throughout the day we have been in touch with the authorities in Baghdad and Erbil identify how best to help in this grave situation. The UN Humanitarian team is urgently reviewing options on how to get aid to those most in need, however this is extremely difficult as fighting continues. I want to reiterate that international law imposes obligations on all parties to the present conflict to ensure the protection of civilians and their access to humanitarian assistance.

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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.