Iraq: Amid rising insecurity, UN official urges unimpeded access to desperate civilians

A mosque in Iraq. Photo: UNHCR/K. Brooks (file)

31 July 2014 – A senior UN official in Iraq expressed concern today over rising levels of violence and instability across the crisis-torn country and its impact on the lives of civilians.

“Immediate, safe and unhindered access is now needed,” said Jacqueline Badcock, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq.

“We urgently need to deliver lifesaving assistance and restore basic services to conflict-affected communities, as well as new and existing IDPs (internally displaced persons) and refugees, irrespective of their religion, ethnicity or affiliation.”

In recent weeks, the “Islamic State” (IS) and associated armed groups have taken control of several cities and regions in northern Iraq. They are accused of gross human rights violations, some of which may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, including targeting and killing civilians.

According to the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), more than 500,000 people have been displaced since June, bringing the total this year to 1.4 million, including more than 230,000 Syrian refugees. Between January and June this year, 5,500 people have been killed and 12,000 injured. Almost 900 people have been killed in July alone.

“Civilians must be guaranteed that they can leave areas affected by the violence in dignity and safety with their right to access humanitarian assistance respected,” Ms. Badcock said.

Many have fled to Kurdish-controlled areas of the south while others remain trapped in active conflict zones and in need of urgent humanitarian assistance. In many cases, basic services have been targeted, including health facilities, water supplies and power grids, creating additional, unnecessary suffering to the civilian population.

“The UN and humanitarian partners are ready to assist, but to do so all parties to the conflict must agree to stop the hostilities and guarantee the safe and unimpeded access to humanitarian staff and goods to communities in needs,” she added.


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