New York

03 August 2014

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the recent attacks in the Ninewa Plains in Iraq

The Secretary-General is alarmed to hear reports today of Islamic State (IS) forces taking over the Iraqi districts of Sinjar and Tal Afar in Ninewa Province, causing the mass displacement of some 200,000 civilians, mostly from the Yezidi community.  He expresses his deepest concern for the safety and security of these civilians.

The Secretary-General reiterates that any systematic attack on the civilian population or segments of the civilian population because of their ethnic background, religious beliefs or faith may constitute a crime against humanity and those responsible must be held accountable.

The Secretary-General is particularly appalled by the humanitarian crisis the actions by IS and associated armed groups have triggered and calls upon the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to put their differences aside and work closely together in addressing the urgent security needs of the nation, and adequately protecting and safeguarding the people and territorial integrity of Iraq.

The Secretary-General calls on all Iraqis to assist the displaced, and reminds all parties to the conflict of their obligation in accordance with international law to ensure humanitarian access and to facilitate the delivery of assistance to those fleeing the violence.  All parties must abide by international law and protect civilians living in areas affected by the fighting.

The United Nations stands ready to support the efforts of the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government in addressing the urgent humanitarian needs of those displaced by the current conflict.