DI Alarmed Over New Crisis in Kurdistan region and Iraq &
Calls on International Community to Intervene
7 November 2017
Oslo – DI is alarmed over the humanitarian crisis in Kurdistan region and Iraq and urges the international community to intervene with urgency. Countries supporting Iraq in the fight against ISIS are asked to play an active role in stopping the persecution of Kurds, Christians and other minorities.
Defend International is alarmed over the new humanitarian crisis that has emerged in Kurdistan region and Iraq following a major advance by the Iraqi army and the Iranian-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) to take full control of Kurdish-held territories, including Kirkuk, Sinjar and Rabia’a.
In Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu, the Iraqi army, PMF militants and armed Turkmen have methodically forced citizens to flee from their homes and deliberately targeted civilians, killing and wounding many, mostly children and elderly. There were reportedly cases of sexual violence, looting and burning of properties owned by Kurds. Accurate figures are unavailable but reports received from our local partners claim that hundreds of properties have been looted and/or set on fire, while others were demolished with explosives.
Consequently, over 200.000 civilians, mostly Kurds and Christians, have fled in fear for their lives. “The displaced families are currently scattered in villages, towns and camps with no sufficient humanitarian assistance available,” noted Dr. Widad Akreyi, co-founder of Defend International. “We are concerned about their fate under the growing regional influence of Iran and what looks like a four-lateral agreement between Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria to launch a new persecution campaign in the region.”
Defend International underlines that the Iraqi army and PMF militias are possibly committing crimes against humanity by systematically attacking civilians, causing grave humiliation and/or a degradation of human beings. These offences are committed against civilian populations on racial, religious or political grounds, and the perpetrators must be held accountable. “The PMF militants and the Iraqi army have been involved in acts of violence, rape, persecution and forced displacement of civilians. Such acts must be investigated promptly, those responsible brought to justice and the victims must be compensated,” said Dr. Widad.
Given that the new crisis can have dire consequences for the Middle East, thereby constituting a threat to regional and possibly international security, Defend International calls on the international community to act immediately to ensure the safety and security of civilians at all times. We demand that the Iraqi government provides life-saving assistance to the internally displaced persons and ensures their safe return. Furthermore, we call on countries supporting Iraq and PMF militias (in the fight against ISIS) to play an active role in stopping the persecution of Kurds, Christians and other minorities.
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Credit: Photo taken by Harald Doornbos