UN "gravely concerned" about deteriorating situation in northern Iraq

Photo: UN "gravely concerned" about deteriorating situation in northern Iraq / Arab World

The United Nations said on Thursday it is gravely concerned about the serious deterioration in the security and humanitarian situation in northern Iraq as up to 400, 000 civilians fled the conflicts in the area in recent days, Xinhua reported.

"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," Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Iraq Gyorgy Busztin said in a statement, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

"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," he said.

Over the last 48 hours 200,000 civilians have fled the advance of the ISIL, with at least 180,000 crossed into Dohuk district of the Kurdistan Region, as ISIL and associated armed groups have overrun many more areas in Iraq's northern province of Nineveh and continued to fight the Kurdish forces, the statement said.

In addition, up to 200,000 predominantly Yezidi civilians have fled their homes and are becoming trapped in mountainous areas near Sinjar as a result of the ISIL advance into Sinjar and Tal Afar districts in Nineveh on Saturday and Monday.

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 -- and with the conflict ongoing, many more civilians are expected to flee the fighting, the statement said.

Busztin urged the Iraq government and the authorities 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.

He also call on the international community to provide assistance to Iraq 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."

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