Iraq unrest: UN chief expresses concern over deepening crisis

Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson addressing reporters at UN Headquarters in New York [PHOTO: UNifeed]
New York: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his grave concern at the deepening crisis in Iraq and the rising number of civilian deaths and injuries, with over one million Iraqis having fled their homes due to the fighting.

Speaking to reporters, United Nations (UN) spokesperson Stephan Dujarric said that Ban had called on all parties to the conflict to stop persecution of civilians based on their religion or ethnic background.

He added that the ngoing crisis has displaced an estimated 650,000 people

Dujarric also said that "the Secretary-General remains deeply troubled by the persistent reports of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including summary executions and indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas."

Ban urged the Iraqi Government to hold all perpetrators accountable.

Iraq's newly elected Council of Representatives is expected to convene on Tuesday.

The UN mission in Iraq encouraged all representatives to attend the session to undertake their constitutional duties.

Dujarric said that "the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Nickolay Mladenov, has called on the new Parliament to immediately engage in addressing the concerns of all communities in Iraq."

Mladenov stressed the importance of electing a Speaker, following which the Parliament should promptly elect a President and approve a new Government, as stipulated by the Constitution. He also warned that any delay in the process would be detrimental to the country's future.

On the humanitarian front, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that displacement numbers continue to increase rapidly, adding that the ongoing crisis has displaced an estimated 650,000 people so far, bring the total displacement, including from Anbar, to over 1.2 million people in Iraq.

Concerns for the displaced are mounting, in particular for those unable to reach areas under Kurdish control, where humanitarian organizations are more easily able to access them. Lack of security in areas with large scale displacements such as Mosul, Tal Afar, Tikrit and on the road south to Baghdad continues to hinder assessments and delivery of aid.

Finally, the UN spokesperson said "UNICEF reported that it has received a million doses of polio vaccine to expand immunization efforts in Iraq's Kurdistan region. The supplies will help UNICEF, and the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as local authorities to launch a joint campaign targeting some 800,000 children under the age of five early next week." - UNifeed
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