SRSG’s STATEMENT TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 15 JULY 2016 [As Prepared]
With deep feeling of sorrow, I join the UNSC in strongly condemning the terrorist attack of yesterday in Nice. I express my deep sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims, to the Government and people of France.
The recent strategic victories against ISIL in Fallujah and Qayyarah and progress in cutting off ISIL forces in Hawjia have once again proved that Iraqis are capable of defeating Daesh with the support of international community. Following the liberation of Fallujah, Prime Minister Abadi sent senior delegations to provide briefings on Iraq’s progress against Daesh to a number of states, notably to GCC members, with an invitation to join forces in the fight against this increasingly global threat to international peace and security. The need for cooperation and mutual support has never been more apparent. Hundreds of civilians were killed in a spate of attacks attributed to ISIL in Iraq, Turkey, Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia.
Progress against Daesh has now put liberation of Mosul strongly on the agenda. As preparations continue with increased focus and acceleration, a point of importance for us is that Prime Minister Abadi has prioritised UN- supported humanitarian operations and has requested the international community to urgently provide the necessary financing. Together with planning the military aspects, the government and the local actors need to accelerate political planning for “the day after” the liberation, addressing the issues of governance, law and order and political management of Mosul and the rest of Ninewah. I note the increased coordination between Baghdad and Erbil and encourage continued efforts to this end. Also, any international assistance must be fully coordinated with the government of Iraq and must respect the principle of sovereignty of Iraq.
On 28 June the Federal Supreme Court ruled that the parliamentary sessions of 14 and 26 April were nullified. This decision means that the situation reverts to the pre- 14 April status quo, with Speaker Salim al-Jubouri maintaining his position, while the five ministerial appointments of the 26 April session need to be revisited. The Parliament returned from recess and held its plenary sessions on 12and 13 July.
Also today tens of thousands supporters of Syed Muqtada al-Sadr demonstrated in Baghdad in support of reforms, security and against corruption. In the past week protests against the government have also emerged in response to deteriorated security situation in Baghdad in the wake of the terrorist attacks, notably in Karrada on 3 July that victimized hundreds of civilians- a barbaric act that all of us condemned in strongest possible terms. Of concern are repeated calls, supported by many politicians to conduct –in retaliation- executions, of those convicted of terrorist attacks.
The need for Iraqi political and community leaders and in particular the Council of Representatives to prioritise reconciliation based on a single vision and coordinated approach remains a matter of considerable urgency to ensure that the –post Daeshphase in Iraq’s history be more stable, secure and prosperous than in the past.
Sustainable peace and security can be achieved only with a historic compromise that will put an end to the divisive policies of intolerance, inequality and of political and social injustice.
I continue to call on the Government to also take specific steps to promote women’s rights, their participation in politics and national reconciliation processes as part of the reform process as well as to support the victims of conflict-based sexual violence more effectively.
Meanwhile, the Independent High Electoral Commission continues preparations for the 2017 Provincial Council elections. As of 7 July, biometric data for 6.01 million voters has been uploaded. The process also seeks to include displaced voters, with the deployment of 113 mobile teams in 16 governorates.
In the Fallujah operation, the government gave an unprecedented priority to protection of lives and dignity of civilians. Military assisted civilians in identifying safe escape routes, facilitated extraction of civilians from war zones. A week into the operation the Prime Minister announced that the battle would be slowed to better ensure the safety of civilians trapped inside the city and used by ISIL as human shields. This made a difference. Nearly 90,000 civilians took the decision to leave and have made it to safety under some of the most difficult and perilous conditions imaginable.
Notwithstanding all this, since the announcement of the Fallujah military operation on 22 May, UNAMI has received credible reports of human rights violations and crimes, including torture and killings, disappearances and other allegations of mistreatment of those detained, committed by elements of the Popular Mobilization Forces and the Iraqi security forces operating in the Fallujah area, notably during the initial phases of the operation.
For example, UNAMI has registered statements supporting claims that 95 men remain unaccounted for after they were intercepted by forces affiliated to PMF while leaving their homes in Al Sejar area on 25 May, whilst another 643 men including boys, remain missing since 5 June after they were intercepted by PMF affiliated forces while leaving Saqlawiyah.
On 6 June, Prime Minister Abadi announced the creation of a committee to investigate violations and crimes. In my meeting with PM Abadi last Monday I reiterated the message delivered to the Prime Minister by the Secretary-General in his telephone call on 26 June that it is imperative that the Committee takes swift action to identify the whereabouts of these missing men and boys, and to secure their safe release or transfer them to lawful government authorities. The authorities must hold accountable any individual who may have been responsible for any violations that have been committed. Also these lessons from Fallujah shall be taken into account when planning liberation of Mosul.
A newly published UNICEF report reveals that the number of children in danger of death, injury, sexual violence, abduction and recruitment into armed groups in Iraq has increased by 1.3 million in 18 months. I urge the Government of Iraq to establish soonest possible a high level Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to ensure coordination and dialogue between the Government of Iraq and the UN on all issues regarding grave violations of children’s rights.
The retaking of Fallujah should not cast doubt on the remaining ability of ISIL to conduct devastating attacks in different areas of the country, despite its consistent losses of manpower, command structure, morale, local support and territory. While the Daesh’s governance project in Iraq is collapsing, it has increasingly resorted to brutal insurgency tactics using suicide bombers. The pattern of reinvigorated urban terrorism with sectarian focus, notably attacks against civilian targets and infrastructure in Baghdad is indicative of this trend. Luckily, so far they have failed in their efforts to re-ignite sectarian confrontation.
Providing and guaranteeing law and order and security to all citizens of Iraq is a top responsibility of the respective state organs and institutions and must remain their prerogative. With the progress in fighting Daesh, reforming Iraqi security institutions and ensuring that the state has full control of all armed groups becomes a priority.
On 4 July several rockets impacted inside the Camp Hurriya while others fell outside the perimeter. A number of residents and two policemen on duty were reportedly injured. I deplore this attack and I wish to recall the Government’s responsibility for the security and safety of the residents of the camp, urging a prompt investigation of the matter, while taking the appropriate measures to ensure such an incident does not happen again. The United Nations remains committed to its efforts to facilitate a peaceful and durable solution for the residents on humanitarian grounds to maintain the recent momentum in the relocation efforts and without any hindrances.
The humanitarian situation has deteriorated further since the start of the military operation for Fallujah with 640,000 currently displaced in Anbar governorate alone.
Nationwide, more than 10 million Iraqis require some form of humanitarian assistance including 3.4 million people who have been displaced since the rise of ISIL in 2014. The humanitarian appeal for 2016 requested US$861 million. As I stand before you today, it is only funded at 38 per cent.
A reallocation of existing resources is under way but more funding is urgently needed, not only for the current emergency response, but also for the anticipated requirements arising from the Mosul liberation campaign, where the humanitarian effort could cost as much as US$1 billion. OCHA estimates that the Mosul operation will be the largest and most sensitive humanitarian crisis in the world in 2016, and it is vital that resources are made available now to make timely preparations possible.
The impact of under-funding on the crisis in Iraq is significant. Patience of host communities is disappearing, distrust in the government is growing. Prospects for stability and reconciliation after ISIL are put at risk.
UN efforts to help stabilise areas newly liberated from ISIL are expanding. This includes Ramadi and soon also Fallujah. Stabilisation efforts can only expand further after the threat of improvised explosive devices and explosive remnants of war has been addressed. UNMAS is working in Iraq with partners to address explosive contamination. It also urgently requires financing of a minimum USD 300 millionv over the next three years.
As regards the Kuwaiti file, I would like to welcome the new dynamics, determination and political will to achieve results that the Iraqi Ministry of Defence has shown since taking over the technical overview of the missing Kuwaiti persons file.
New momentum was also evident in the efforts of the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs to locate the missing Kuwaiti property. Thousands of Kuwaiti books are being prepared for official handover to the Government of Kuwait.
During his recent visit to Kuwait on 26 June, the Secretary-General in his meeting with the Emir of the State of Kuwait commended Kuwait for its consistent support for Iraq while he re-confirmed the UN’s continuing resolve to see progress on the file.
The Government of Iraq, in turn, has to abide by its international obligations and strive to achieve concrete results on this very important file.
The world must recognize that Iraq requires more, not less international support at this critical juncture. The pledging conference organized in support of Iraq in Washington on 20 July is a sign of the international community’s continued commitment for a stable and peaceful Iraq and its recognition of the sacrifices Iraq and its people bear in fighting terrorist Daesh. While the international community is ready to offer assistance, Iraqis must implement substantive, in particular economic, institutional and anti-corruption reforms that will put their country on the road to recovery and improve the lives of Iraqis. People demand genuine change.