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UN Warns Desperation May Drive Iraqis To Islamic State

  • RFE/RL

The United Nations envoy for Iraq warned that a lack of funds for desperately needed humanitarian aid has already cut food rations and may be forcing Iraqis to look to the Islamic State for life-saving assistance.

Jan Kubis told the UN Security Council July 22 that he is "very worried" at reports that desperate Iraqis are turning for help to the militant group, which still controls about a third of the country a year after its fighters captured Iraq's second-largest city Mosul.

"The human cost of the conflict remains far too high," he said.

According to a UN report last week, the Iraq conflict has taken a terrible toll on civilians, with nearly 15,000 killed and 30,000 wounded during a 16-month period ending on April 30.

Kubis said at least 8.2 million people — roughly one in four Iraqis — need urgent assistance, and half need food. More than three million Iraqis have fled their homes and UN partners estimate that nearly a million more are likely to be displaced by continuing violence in the coming months, he said.

In addition, close to 300,000 refugees have sought safety in Iraq, most fleeing across the border from Syria where IS also controls a large swath of the country, he said.

Meanwhile, the UN is poised to close down 80 health facilities and scores of life-saving programs unless it receives additional funds.

The UN humanitarian office said that only 8 percent of its appeal in June for $497 million to cover the costs of shelter, food, water, and other aid over the next six months has been funded.

While many Iraqi are getting desperate for food and other basic needs, others have been deprived of their freedom or their lives because of ongoing atrocities, Kubis said.

“The mission continues to receive widespread reports of attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, extrajudicial killings, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual violence, forced recruitment of children, wanton destruction and looting of civilian property, and denial of fundamental rights and freedoms,” he said.

Minorities, women and children continue to be particularly vulnerable to the “horrors and indignities” inflicted by IS, he said.

“The recent terrorist outrage during the Eid holidays near a Shi’ite mosque in Khan Bani Saad in which over 120 civilians were reported killed and some 170 injured is another tragic witness to this,” he said.

“To restore trust and to rebuild unity between the various communities that form the Iraqi people, it is necessary to ensure justice and accountability for violations and abuses, whenever they have taken place and by whomever they were perpetrated, and to eliminate discrimination and marginalization wherever it occurs.”

With reporting by AP and UN News Center
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