Saturday, 9 November 2019, 11:25 amPress Release: UNHCHR
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:
Rupert ColvilleLocation: Geneva Date: 8 November
2019Subject: (1) Syria(2) Iraq(3)
Mauritania1) SyriaCivilians continue to pay a
very high price in the ongoing hostilities in Syria.
have been killed and injured in the largely separate
situations occurring simultaneously in north-eastern and
north-western Syria, from a variety of causes including
airstrikes and ground based strikes, and increasingly as a
result of what appears to be an indiscriminate use of
improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in populated areas,
including in local markets.
Since the launch of the
Turkish-led military offensive in north-eastern Syria on 9
October, we have verified incidents which – as of 5
November – have resulted in the deaths of a total of at
least 92 civilians in northern and north-eastern Syria.
Of these, 49 were victims of airstrikes, ground-based
strikes, sniper fire, and executions carried out by opposing
Turkish-affiliated armed groups and Kurdish armed groups.
addition, during the same period, we have verified the
deaths of a further 31 civilians killed by IEDs, or
explosive remnants of war, within the geographic area of
Turkey’s military offensive i.e.
in Al-Hassakeh, Ar-Raqqa
and parts of Aleppo Governorate.
And we have recorded the
killing of another 12 civilians over the same period as a
result of attacks with IEDs or ground-based strikes by
Kurdish armed groups, and other unidentified perpetrators,
in areas beyond the scope of the Turkish military operation,
such as Afrin, Jarablus, al-Bab, and Azaz.
with improvised explosive devices have noticeably escalated
in recent days, mainly in areas under the control of
Turkish-affiliated armed groups, which suggests they have
most likely been carried out by groups opposing the Turkish
We are very concerned about the
increasing number of civilians being killed and injured as a
result of the use of IEDs in populated areas.
indiscriminate use of such weapons is a clear violation of
international humanitarian law.
We remind all parties to the
conflict of their responsibility to protect civilians and to
comply with their obligations under international law.Another issue of concern in the north-east, relates to
people recently displaced during the military offensive who
have subsequently been subjected to arbitrary detention, in
addition to enforced disappearances, after returning to
This is occurring both in areas controlled by
Turkish forces and Turkish-affiliated armed groups, and in
areas controlled by Kurdish armed groups.
We remind all
parties of the urgent need to facilitate immediate and safe
return of displaced civilians who wish to go back to their
homes, in accordance with international humanitarian
And all people held in custody, regardless of
the reason, must be treated humanely and be accounted for.
Separately, while much of the international attention
is on north-eastern Syria, in the north-western part of the
country, after the lull in hostilities in Idlib Governorate
during October, there has been a recent upsurge in
airstrikes and ground-based strikes, mostly in parts of
southern and western Idlib, including yet more attacks
affecting medical facilities.
Despite the focus placed on
such attacks by the UN and others, and the establishment of
a Board of Inquiry by the Secretary-General, health
facilities continue to be directly hit or significantly
damaged whenever there is a military escalation in Idlib.
Four separate facilities were damaged on 4 and 6
November, taking the total number of health facilities we
have recorded since 29 April to 61.
The Kafr Nobol hospital,
which was hit on 6 November, had already been repeatedly
struck and damaged in May and July.
On the same day at
around 01:30 hours, three civilian medics were injured as a
result of several alleged airstrikes by Government
Two of the airstrikes directly hit the
hospital of al-Ikhlas in the village of Shanan in Jabal
al-Zawya area in southern rural Idlib, putting it out of
service.We repeat yet again that all parties must
ensure that hospital and medical services, including medical
staff, are respected and protected in all circumstances.
We stress that the figures are not comprehensive, as
we are not able to track all casualties.
Nor are we able to
verify every single incident.
Instead, we are attempting
primarily to monitor patterns of hostilities with a
particular emphasis on emblematic incidents that we are able
to verify in order to identify such patterns.2)
IraqWe are gravely concerned about continuing reports
of deaths and injuries resulting from the use of force by
security forces against demonstrators, as well as deliberate
killings by armed elements in Iraq.
Between 1 October and
last night, the Human Rights Office for the UN Assistance
Mission for Iraq has documented 269 deaths in the context of
demonstrations across the country.
At least 8,000 others
have reportedly been injured, including members of the Iraqi
The exact casualty figures may be much
The majority of the casualties have resulted from
the use of live ammunition by security forces and armed
elements, described by many as private militia groups, as
well as the unnecessary, disproportionate or improper use of
less-lethal weapons such as tear gas.Protests have
continued this week in Baghdad, and deaths and injuries have
been documented during demonstrations in Baghdad, Basra, Dhi
Qar and Karbala.
Just this morning, we received reports of
five protesters killed during demonstrations in front of the
Governorate building in Basra last night.
On Wednesday this
week, a civil society activist was shot and killed, and
another injured by armed elements on the way home from a
demonstration in Missan.
We are also following up on reports
of multiple arrests of demonstrators and activists, as well
as bloggers and social media commentators, but there has
been a lack of transparency, making these reports difficult
to follow up on.We are alarmed by reports of the
abduction, by unknown perpetrators, of protesters or
volunteers providing assistance in the demonstrations.
allegations should be promptly investigated, the whereabouts
of those missing clarified and those responsible held to
account.We are disturbed by the statement by the High
Judicial Council in Iraq that the Federal Anti-Terrorism Law
would be applicable against those resorting to violence,
sabotaging public property and using firearms against
security forces – these are acts of terrorism that may be
punishable by death.We urge the Iraqi Government to
ensure it complies with its obligation to protect the
exercise of the right to peaceful assembly.
taking preventive steps to protect demonstrators from armed
elements, as well as issuing clear instructions to security
forces to abide by international norms and standards on the
use of force, including for example, an explicit prohibition
on the shooting of tear gas canisters directly at
demonstrators.Immediate steps must be taken to
investigate and prosecute those responsible for these
killings, and justice and truth should be provided for the
victims and their families.
It is crucial that terrorism
charges are not used against demonstrators.We call on
the authorities to take firm steps towards a meaningful
dialogue in Iraq, to take stock of the many grievances and
work with a broad range of actors towards a sustainable
resolution to the many challenges Iraq faces.
We stand ready
to assist.The two UN Iraq human rights reports on
protests since October 1 are
here:http://www.uniraq.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=11995:human-rights-violations-ongoing-un-second-special-report-on-protests-in-iraq&Itemid=605&lang=en3) MauritaniaWe welcome the conviction and
sentencing of a 30-year-old Mauritanian man for having raped
a 15-year-old girl in Kaedi, in Southern Mauritania.
was sentenced to five years in prison.
This is an
encouraging step for a country where gender-based violence,
and specifically rape, has in the past gone unpunished in
almost all cases.
We call on the Government of Mauritania to
ensure gender-sensitive and age-sensitive reparations for
the victim, including compensation.Mauritania does
not have a law to prevent gender-based violence.
occasions, a draft law presented to the Parliament has been
We urge the Mauritanian Parliament to urgently
relaunch the discussion on the draft bill and to adopt as
soon as possible legislation that complies with human rights
standards, including a clear definition of rape and other
forms of sexual violence.We also call on the
Government to take all necessary measures to advance the
legislation and, once enacted, to implement a comprehensive,
well-resourced plan of action to tackle a serious and
widespread problem in Mauritania.In this context, we
would like to highlight that this year’s 16 Days of
Activism against Gender-Based Violence focuses on rape.
campaigns, which is a grassroots initiative supported by the
UN, runs from 25 November, which is the International Day
for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, until 10
December, Human Rights Day.ENDS
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Note: The post (UN: BRIEFING NOTES: Syria; Iraq; Mauritania) appeared first on (Iraq Today) and do not necessarily reflect the position of IraqNow.news.
You can read the original text from the source (Iraq Today).