UN Human Rights Council to Send Emergency Team to Iraq to Probe Possible ISIS War Crimes

IDPs in Northern Iraq resting in a school. Photo: <a href="http://www.ankawa.com/">ankawa.com</a>
IDPs in Northern Iraq resting in a school. Photo: ankawa.com

LWF Calls for Humanitarian Assistance, Protection of Targeted Minority Groups

(LWI) – The United Nations Human Rights Council has decided to send a team to Iraq to investigate possible war crimes by the Sunni Muslim militant group, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) after hearing reports from human rights officials describing mass killings, forced conversions and other atrocities committed “on an unimaginable scale.” The Geneva-based Council in its session on 1 September 2014 agreed to urgently dispatch a fact-finding team to focus on abuses by ISIS, including targeted killings, slavery, sexual abuse and the besieging of entire communities.

“We call up on the international community to immediately reach all people affected by this crisis and in need of humanitarian assistance with life-saving assistance such as water, food and non-food items,” said Ojot Ojulu, Advocacy Officer of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), speaking on behalf of LWF, ACT Alliance and eight other faith-based organizations at the Council meeting.

In addition, Ojulu said  “immediate humanitarian and diplomatic measures” must be taken “for the protection of all people affected by this conflict such as the Yazidis, Christians, Turkmen and other persecuted groups,” and for the international community “to search for a lasting solution for peace, reconciliation and justice for all in the region.”

Deputy Human Rights Commissioner Flavia Pansieri said Christians, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shabak, Kaka’i, Sabeans and Shia communities had “all been targeted through particularly brutal persecution” and that ISIS had “ruthlessly carried out what may amount to ethnic and religious cleansing.”

Pansieri called upon the international community to “assist the Iraqi authorities to ensure the protection of, and assistance to, those fleeing the areas affected by terrorism.” The LWF is already on the ground in Dohuk governorate in Northern Iraq providing food, non-food items and hygiene kits for internally displaced people.

Over 1.5 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance in Iraq, as ISIS continues its encroachment in the region. Since the group’s violent take-over of large swaths of land in Northern and Western Iraq, the country according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is now contending with one of the largest internal displacements in the world.  

“Many have been killed directly: others have been besieged and deprived of food, water or medication. Hundreds of thousands of civilians from these communities have fled to remote and desolate locations where unconfirmed reports indicate that scores of children, elderly people with disabilities have been dying as a result of exhaustion and deprivation,” Pansieri said.

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