Iraq: ‘vicious circle of violence’ claims nearly 500 civilian lives in November, UN mission reports

Families fleeing violence in Ramadi, Anbar province, walk across Bzebiz Bridge into Baghdad province in Iraq. Photo: UNICEF/ Wathiq Khuzaie

1 December 2015 – Nearly 500 Iraqi civilians were killed in Iraq last month in a “vicious circle of violence,” ranging from acts of terrorism to armed conflict, as the total number of Iraqi casualties rose to more than 2,100, according to the UN Assistance Mission in the crisis-gripped country.

In the month of November, the mission, known as UNAMI, reported the number of civilians killed was 489 and the number of civilians injured was 869, with a further 399 members of the Iraqi Security Forces killed and 368 injured.

Baghdad was again the worst affected Governorate with 1,110 civilian casualties (325 killed, 785 injured), Ninewa had 109 killed and 41 injured, while Kirkuk 14 killed and 23 injured, Salahadin 21 killed and 08 injured, and Diyala 16 killed and 11 injured.

UNAMI said it has been hindered in effectively verifying casualties in conflict areas.

For instance, the mission said, it could not obtain the casualty figures for the month of November from Anbar, where fighting for control of the province is raging and lack of access has left tens of thousands of people without humanitarian assistance for more than seven months.

“The Iraqi people continue to suffer from this vicious circle of violence, which has affected all walks of life in this country,” said UN Special Representative for Iraq Ján Kubiš. “The United Nations deplores the continuing loss of life resulting from acts of terrorism and armed conflict in Iraq.”

On a positive note, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced it had managed to have distributed urgently needed food assistance today, provided by the Government of Iraq, to nearly 70,000 people in two besieged cities of Haditha and Al Baghdadi in the central governorate of Anbar. Haditha and Al Baghdadi have been under siege since March 2015, severely impairing humanitarian access.

More than 3 million Iraqis have been displaced by the conflict in Iraq since mid-June last year. In October, WFP reached over 1.1 million Iraqis who had fled their homes across all 18 governorates with food assistance.

UNAMI also noted in its update issued Monday that it has also received, without being able to verify, reports of large numbers of casualties along with unknown numbers of persons who have died from secondary effects of violence after having fled their homes due to exposure to the elements, lack of water, food, medicines and health care.

“For these reasons, the figures reported have to be considered as the absolute minimum,” the mission said.

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