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UN: BRIEFING NOTES: Syria; Iraq; Mauritania

2019/11/09 | 11:08

(Iraq Now News)-

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

military offensive.

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

their homes.

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

affiliated forces.

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

security forces.

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.

This means

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: 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.

The man

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.

On two

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
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