Over the last 48 hours 200,000 civilians have fled the advance of ISIL, with at least 180,000 crossed into Dohuk district of the Kurdistan Region. This in addition to large numbers of civilians displaced as a result of the ISIL advance into Sinjar and Tal Afar districts of Ninewa Governorate that took place on 2-3 August, which resulted in up to 200,000 predominantly Yezidi civilians becoming trapped on Jabal Sinjar in territory now controlled by ISIL. With the conflict ongoing, many more civilians are expected to flee the fighting.
Many of those displaced or directly affected by the violence belong to Iraq’s minority religious and ethnic communities - including Yezidi, Christians, Shabak, Turkomen and others.
The Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Iraq, Mr. Gyorgy Busztin, said “I am gravely concerned for the physical safety of many of those civilians trapped in areas under ISIL control or in areas affected by violence. The UN continues to receive reports that members of minority communities are being subjected to serious human rights violations by ISIL including murder, kidnappings, forced conversions, physical and sexual assault, and the looting and destruction of property and places of religious and cultural significance, in what appears to be a widespread and systematic policy aimed at cleansing non Sunni ethnic and religious communities from areas under its control”.
The DSRSG further stated, “The United Nations is also deeply worried by the humanitarian situation of civilians in areas under ISIL control. Many are in locations that are inaccessible, including those who have been trapped for over 5 days on Jabal Sinjar mountain - women, children, aged people and people with disabilities and those in need of medical assistance”. The DSRSG further added: “Without the delivery of urgent life-saving items, including water, food, shelter and medicines, the lives of thousands of these civilians is now at serious risk”. The numbers of displaced in the Kurdistan Region-Iraq have risen at an alarming rate and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is unable to meet their needs. DSRSG Busztin called on the Iraqi Government to urgently make resources available to the KRG to help alleviate the crisis.
The United Nations is coordinating humanitarian assistance for the latest influx of civilians displaced into the Kurdistan Region and is exploring all avenues to try to get supplies to those trapped in ISIL areas of control – however, resources are being stretched to the limit.
The DSRSG stated, “I urgently call on the Government of Iraq and the Government of the Kurdistan Region to coordinate a security and humanitarian response to the current crisis and to do their utmost to ensure the availability of resources to support the humanitarian needs of those civilians displaced or affected by the violence. I also urgently call on the members of the international community to provide assistance to the Governments of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region to combat the threat posed by ISIL and associated armed groups and to ensure the protection of civilians from the effects of violence, particularly members of Iraq’s ethnic and religious minorities who are now at serious risk”.