Iraq: as militants advance, UN swings into action on political, humanitarian fronts

Displaced Iraqis who fled from the fighting in Mosul wait in line to receive clearance to travel to safety in Erbil. Photo: UNHCR/R. Nuri

12 June 2014 – With Iraq facing “the most serious threats to its security in years,” the top United Nations official in the country reiterated today the Organization’s support for the Iraqi Government’s efforts to combat terrorist groups in the wake of the crisis sparked by the militant takeover of key cities in the north.

According to a UN spokesperson in New York, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Nikolay Mladenov, met earlier today with Speaker Osama Nujeifi of the Iraqi Council of Representatives and expressed grave concern about the situation in the country.

Islamic insurgents seized Iraq’s second largest city on Tuesday following days of fighting against Iraqi Government forces. As many as 500,000 people have reportedly fled Mosul in the wake of the violence, and yesterday, terrorists kidnapped the Consul General of Turkey and several consulate staff working in the city.

In his meetings, Mr. Mladenov said that the ongoing violence in parts of Iraq is the most severe threat to its security in years. He reiterated the UN’s support for the Iraqi Government in its efforts to fight against terrorist organizations.

Yesterday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the upsurge in violence as “totally unacceptable,” strongly condemning the actions of terrorists groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which have reportedly taken control of the cities of Mosul, Tuz Khourmatu, Beiji and Tikrit.

Mr. Mladenov briefed the UN Security Council today on the situation via video-conference.

Meanwhile, on the humanitarian front, UN agencies have swung into action to provide assistance for the hundreds of thousands of people fleeing the turmoil. Those agencies already on the ground are urging the protection of civilians and appealing for additional support to address this rapidly-evolving humanitarian crisis.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners have prioritized delivery of emergency aid, including vaccines to help prevent the spread of diseases such as polio and measles.

In addition, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is launching an initial emergency operation to provide food assistance to 42,000 of the most vulnerable people displaced by the violence.

In a press release, the agency said it has deployed emergency and logistics staff to Erbil in the Kurdistan region to determine further food needs on the ground following the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people from Mosul to Erbil and neighbouring areas over the past two days.

“The crisis in Iraq is escalating quickly. In some areas on the borders between Iraq and Kurdistan where newly displaced people are arriving, there are reports of unavailability of food in the shops. Meeting the food needs of the most vulnerable groups is a crucial step for WFP’s mission in the country,” said WFP Representative in Iraq Jane Pearce.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has also stepped up its efforts to provide shelter, protection and emergency supplies to displaced families. Preparations for a displacement camp in the Dohuk Governorate are under way. Some 1,000 UNHCR tents have been delivered, and UNICEF and partners are coordinating emergency water and sanitation activities for the camp.


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Iraq: UN chief, Security Council deplore kidnapping of Turkish diplomats in Mosul

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