World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


UN Warns that Northern Iraq is Facing 'Cultural Cleansing'

UN Agency Chief Warns that Northern Iraq is Facing 'Cultural Cleansing'

9 August 2014

UNHCR distributing aid near Duhok in northern Iraq's Kurdistan region. Photo: UNHCR/E. Colt

As United Nations humanitarian agencies and partners are extending aid to hundreds of thousands of families on the run in northern Iraq from armed militants, a senior UN official is calling for an immediate stop to what she termed an “emerging cultural cleansing.”

Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), called for an immediate end to the attacks and for the protection of the diversity that has “forged the wealth and vitality of Iraqi culture over the millennia, as a unique testimony of the development of civilization and peaceful coexistence.”

Attacks against civilians and minority groups are “a direct blow on the cultural diversity, which is a defining characteristic of humanity,” she said. “It is unacceptable that people are denied their most fundamental rights, that they are systematically persecuted and killed because of their beliefs, ethnic origin or cultural expressions.”

Ms. Bokova joins a growing group that has voiced alarm in recent days about the displacement and attacks on ethnic and religious minorities. The Security Council andSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon have expressed concern about reports that the group, Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), attacked civilians in the cities of Kirkuk, and Qaraqosh, and earlier attacks in Tal Afar and Sinjar district of Ninewa Governorate, affecting mainly the vulnerable communities of Christians, Turkomen, and Yezidis.

“The protection of people is inseparable from the protection of their cultures, living expressions and heritage,” Ms. Bokova underscored.

The situation remains particularly dire on Jebel Sinjar, or Sinjar Mountain, where an estimated 50,000 people, many of them women, children and the elderly, are believed to be trapped since ISIL forced them to flee their homes nearly a week ago.

More than 200,000 other people are believed to have made their way to Dahuk governorate in the Kurdistan region, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which has stressed that the numbers of those displaced are fluid and unverified.

They had been without aid until yesterday's airdrops by the Iraqi Government and the United States military, the UN agency confirmed in its latest 'Crisis Report'.

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, OCHA has said.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Haiti: $5 Million To Kick-Start Aid In Wake Of Hurricane Matthew

UN emergency fund allocates $5 million to kick-start assistance in wake of Hurricane Matthew More>>


Not Helen Clark: António Guterres Favourite For Next UN Secretary-General

Former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres has emerged as the clear favourite to become the next United Nations Secretary-General following the sixth secret ballot held today by the UN Security Council, which is expected to take a formal decision tomorrow and forward Mr. Guterres’ name to the 193-Member General Assembly for final confirmation. More>>


Preliminary Results: MH17 Investigation Report

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is convinced of having obtained irrefutable evidence to establish that on 17 July 2014, flight MH-17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38-series. According to the JIT there is also evidence identifying the launch location that involves an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi which, at the time, was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. More>>


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news