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Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Iraq 6 July – 10 September 2014 – UN

"Baghdad Iraq during the post withdrawal insurgency soldier standing guard" by Voice of America News: Sharon Behn report from Baghdad, Iraq. - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEs5wxW4hD0&feature=plcp. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Baghdad_Iraq_during_the_post_withdrawal_insurgency_soldier_standing_guard.png#mediaviewer/File:Baghdad_Iraq_during_the_post_withdrawal_insurgency_soldier_standing_guard.png

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued this Report in September 2014 – http://www.ohchr.org/documents/countries/iq/unami_ohchr_poc_report_final_6july_10september2014.pdf

The Report states that as of August 2014, an estimated 1.8 million Iraqis had been displaced due to the ongoing violence. Some 1,000,000 are displaced in areas under the control of ISIL and associated armed groups or in areas under Government control, while 800,000 were displaced in the Kurdistan Region. The Report also says that, UNAMI/OHCHR has “received reports of serious violations of international humanitarian law and gross abuses of human rights that have been perpetrated by ISIL and associated armed groups, with an apparent systematic and widespread character. These include attacks directly targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, executions and other targeted killings of civilians, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual and physical violence perpetrated against women and children, forced recruitment of children, destruction or desecration of places of religious or cultural significance, wanton destruction and looting of property, and denial of fundamental freedoms.”

The UN found that, “ISIL and associated armed groups carried out attacks deliberately and systematically targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, with the intention of killing and wounding civilians. ISIL and associated armed groups also continued to systematically perpetrate targeted assassinations and abductions, including community, political, and religious leaders, government employees, education professionals, journalists, and health workers.”

According to the Report, “ISIL directly targeted members of ISF and police or those associating with them, who did not ‘repent’ (in the case of Sunni or Shi’a) or who refused to pledge their fealty to ISIL and its self-proclaimed ‘Caliph’. In one particular serious incident referred to in UNAMI/OHCHR previous report, 1500 soldiers and security force personnel from former Camp Speicher military Base in Salah al-Din were captured and killed around 12 June. ISIL claimed responsibility for the killing. A number of bodies were recovered in subsequent days from a number of sites, including around Tikrit and from the Tigris river, but UNAMI/OHCHR was unable to confirm directly whether these were the soldiers and personnel from Camp Speicher.” There were many other instances of executions of people seen to be a threat, including women, and a female doctor who resisted pressure from ISIL. The UN also concluded that, “ISIL has directly and systematically targeted Iraq’s various diverse ethnic and religious communities, subjecting them to a range of gross human rights abuses, including murder, physical and sexual assault, robbery, wanton destruction of property, destruction of places of religious or cultural significance, forced conversions, denial of access to basic humanitarian services, and forced expulsion. The targeting of ethnic and religious communities by ISIL appears to be part of a deliberate and systematic policy that aims to suppress, permanently cleanse or expel, or in some instances, destroy those communities within areas of its control.”

Yezidi and Christians, who were directly targeted by ISIL, reported witnessing mass killings committed by ISIL, “Witnesses also recounted seeing dozens of dead on the road from Matu village to Jabal Sinjar. Some reported to have seen, while fleeing from Jabal Sinjar, the bodies of at least 200 children who had died from thirst, starvation and heat. Witnesses also stated that some women with their children had thrown themselves off the mountain in desperation. Those interviewed reported cases of abductions; some 500 women and children from Ba’aj and more than 200 from Tal Banat.”

This Report probably understates the true horrors imposed on the people of Iraq, but it is an important official document that should be read by all concerned about the situation in the region.

© Andrew Palmer 2014

 

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