The latest grim tolls out of Iraq speak to the fate of thousands of its people: death and dislocation.
In the last 2 weeks, as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has overtaken large swaths of the country, more than 1,000 people have been killed and another 1,000 injured, most of them civilians, the United Nations reported Tuesday.
“This figure – which should be viewed very much as a minimum – includes a number of verified summary executions and extra-judicial killings of civilians, police, and soldiers who were hors combat,” Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a press briefing on Iraq on Tuesday.
(Via BBC News)
Between June 5 and June 22, as Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Iraq, at least 757 civilians were killed in provinces North and East of Baghdad, and an additional 318 people were killed in the capital and areas across the South, according to the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq. Some 1,200 were injured.
Kerry arrived in Iraq this weekend to help try and find a political solution to Iraq’s security crisis, but can do little beyond encourage the Shiite-majority backed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and newly elected parliament to form a more inclusive government that represents Iraq’s Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds equally.
It will be months before key government positions are chosen, and in the meantime, Iraqi Security Forces and ISIL insurgents have been accused of abuses, abductions and executions, according to the UNAMI. ISIL has broadcasted many of these atrocities, but the U.N. has also confirmed ISF personnel in Mosul threw grenades into rooms of detainees, killing at least 10.
Another growing problem emerging in Iraq is refugee flows adding to the region’s destabilization. As of World Refugee Day, on Friday, the U.N. refugee agency estimated there are currently 51.2 million refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people, the first time the number has exceeded 50 million since WWII. The war in Syria is mostly responsible for adding 6 million to this number since 2012, making 2.5 million people refugees and displacing 6.5 million. Though the most recent surge of violence in Iraq was not included in UNHCR’s 2013 data, Iraq is number 7 on the list of countries that are major sources of refugees. At least 1 million have been displaced due to the violence in Iraq this year, with half a million displaced in the past several weeks alone.
“We are seeing here the immense costs of not ending wars, of failing to resolve or prevent conflict,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres said Friday. “Peace is today dangerously in deficit. Humanitarians can help as a palliative, but political solutions are vitally needed.”