24 July 2014

Secretary-General's press remarks

I am very pleased to be back in Erbil again, for the second time this year. 

I would like to congratulate the Kurdistan Regional Government and the people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq on holding of both the governorate council elections and the general elections last April.  I also welcome the new Kurdistan Regional Government sworn in last month.

I extend my deepest congratulations to the election of President Fouad Massoum of Iraq this afternoon. I sincerely hope that under the leadership of President Massoum, Iraq will make great progress in peace and stability and prosperity and harmony.

I had the pleasure this morning to meet the new President just before he was elected. I assured him [of the] United Nation’s strong commitment to work with the people and Government of Iraq in the future under his leadership. I sincerely hope that the process of this forming of new Government will be made swiftly.

I also congratulate the new Speaker of Parliament, Honourable Salim al-Jubouri, and Deputy Speakers, Honourable Haidar al-Abadi and Aram Sheikh Mohammed.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I had a very fruitful meeting today with His Excellency President Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. We reviewed the current crisis in Iraq, the government formation process, and the relationship between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Government of Iraq.

We agreed that the challenges facing Iraq are critical. They require all political leaders to ensure that the government formation process is concluded swiftly and within the constitutional timetable.

I am particularly worried about the unfolding security crisis in Iraq. It has claimed thousands of lives, injured many more, and led to the displacement of over a million people this year alone. I am deeply saddened by the senseless deaths of so many Iraqi women, children and men.

The United Nations is following these developments with great concern. I extend my deepest condolences to the families of the victims of armed violence and terrorist attacks, and to the men and women of the Iraqi Security Forces and Peshmerga Forces who have died in the line of duty.

I am outraged by reported threats against minorities in Mosul and other parts of Iraq currently controlled by the Islamic State, including an ultimatum to either convert, pay a tax, or leave, or face execution. 

Equally repugnant are reports that Turkoman, Yazidis and Shabaks are facing abductions, killings or the destruction of their property, and that the homes of Christians, Shia and Shabak residents in Mosul have been marked.

Any systematic attack on ethnic or religious minorities may constitute a crime against humanity.  Those responsible must be held accountable.

I call on all parties to uphold international human rights and humanitarian law.

It is also important that all sides allow humanitarian assistance to reach all those in need.

A humanitarian corridor must be, should be established and honoured by all parties to the conflict.

I salute the courage of the Iraqi Security Forces and Peshmerga Forces in their fight against terrorist groups and their role in protecting communities in the north of Iraq, including in areas that border the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

I want to thank the Government of the KRG, Kurdistan Regional Government, and the people of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq for receiving so many of the newly-displaced, in addition to many Syrian refugees.

I highly appreciate the special role of the host families and communities who, despite their hardships, have opened their homes.

I also commend President Barzani and the KRG for their ongoing support to internally displaced persons, as well as the close coordination with the United Nations.

I encourage all to continue providing humanitarian access to those fleeing conflict. Limited access to Iraqis stranded in areas of heavy fighting could have a disastrous impact on those who need our protection most.

In this difficult time, it is important that all political leaders exert maximum effort to engage in meaningful and constructive dialogue within the framework of the Constitution.  This crisis requires leaders in Erbil and leaders in Baghdad work together to maintain the unity of the country within its federal system and remove the dangers of further tensions and conflicts.  I made these points during my discussions with President Barzani and also Prime Minister [Nuri

I also encourage all political leaders to promote participation to democratic processes and institutions, respect for the rule of law, human rights, and inclusive development.

Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Kurds must work to restore their partnership and jointly solve the current security crisis. It is essential that disputes over outstanding issues, such as salaries, security cooperation, budget and oil exports, be resolved within the framework of the Constitution.

Leaders of Iraq must finally come together to shape a shared vision for the future of this great country. I count on them, to show courage, wisdom, persistence and vision.

The United Nations will continue to stand by the Government and the people of Iraq.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq, UNAMI, led by my Special Representative, Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, who is here with me, will remain a strong partner with Iraq to resolve the current crisis and help [realize] a better future for all of its people.

Thank you.