More reports on: Defence general

UN representative endorses use of force in strife-torn Iraq

26 June 2014

The United Nations' special representative in Iraq Nickolay Mladenov has suggested military intervention to resolve the ''grave'' situation in Iraq caused by the advances of the armed group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS) and its allies.

But, he said, the success of any military operation hinges on cooperation between Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, and Erbil, the seat of the autonomous Kurdish region.

The military plan must also be Iraqi-led and reflect a certain level of national agreement for consensus between the various communities, Mladenov who is the Secretary-General's Special Representative in Iraq and also the head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said.

Briefing journalists in New York via video from Baghdad, Mladenov also appealed for financial resources to aid the already-overstretched UN relief effort there.

''We have consistently urged for the need for national dialogue, for unity, and, very importantly, for the full participation of the Sunni community in the political process, without whom that process will not be complete,'' said Mladenov.

He raised the estimated civilian death toll to at least 1,300 since the recent fighting began, up from Tuesday's estimate of more than 1,000.

At least 900 civilians have been killed since 5 June, when ISIL / ISIS and its allies began their sweep across the country, and 650 have been wounded in fighting in Nineveh, Salah al-Din and Diyala, he said, citing updated figures.

He said the situation continues to be ''very dramatic'', with two million people internally displaced, including one million seeking refuge there as a result of the Syrian conflict and previous conflicts.

''The government's capacity to mount a response, both at the central level and the regional level, is completely stretched, and the UN has been called to assist on a number of occasions,'' he noted.

Some UN staff members have relocated to Erbil, where the bulk of refugees who fled Mosul three weeks ago are located, whilehumanitarian needs in other parts of the country are growing, he said.

Shelter, food, water, and health items continue to be very important in the displacement areas, but the general public is increasingly facing problems with supplies of electricity and water, he added.

He said political cooperation must improve between Iraqi Kurds and the Baghdad government. Also, military solutions must be based on an Iraqi-led plan and reflect a national consensus.

"The threat that is posed by ISIL affects every community in this country," Mladenov said.

Also, he said, the Sunni community has put forward a number of demands over the past couple of months which need to be addressed through a political process.

There is a continuing impasse with the Kurdish Regional Government over budgetary issues, oil and gas revenue sharing, and other such matters that also need to be addressed quickly. In addition, a number of issues, particularly related to poverty among some communities in the Shiite parts of Iraq, also must be addressed.

''We anticipate a funding envelope of over $300 million to meet the most critical needs,'' Mladenov said, appealing to the international community to provide financial and other assistance on behalf of the UN family.

Mladenov said as the environment becomes increasingly sectarian, the UN's approach to dealing with the humanitarian conflict becomes very vital. ''Our assistance continues to be provided in an impartial manner to all,'' he pointed out.

In the report released yesterday, UNAMI and the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) cited alleged abuses by both the Iraqi security forces and ISIL / ISIS, whose militants have purportedly posted more than a dozen videos showing beheadings and shootings of combat soldiers and police officers, as well as apparent targeting of people based on their religion or ethnicity, including Shia and minority groups such as Turcomans, Shabak, Christians, and Yezidis.

''That is an increasingly important concern, as the minority groups fall right in the pathway of the conflict in the north of this country,'' Mladenov said.

He added that much of Iraq's oil supplies remain safe.

"The largest refinery in Iraq at the city of Baiji continues to be disputed," he said. "Government forces still remain in control of the refinery itself, however fighting is continuing."

"Oil fields in the south of the country, which are the vast majority of the reserves ... remain safe and in areas that are under control of the central government," Mladenov added.

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