The advance of terrorists and militant groups as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Anbar province that have left more than 66,000 families displaced, and the proximity of the Syrian war are contributing to the Iraq’s instability, according to a UN senior official, who informed to the Security Council on Thursday about the situation.
Since the beginning of the year 400,000 people have been displaced and more than 2,100 have been killed. Only yesterday, 75 people died across Iraq in several attacks. The ISIL, a group who is fighting also in Syria, controls the Iraqi city of Fallujah. Since the beginning of the war and despite is officially over, the country never reached complete peace.
Since december the violence surged sharply. And now Iraq is in the verge of a civil war starting in Anbar province, a situation that could spread to the rest of the country.
Following are the extended explanations Nickolay Mladenov, Special Representative of the Secretary General for Iraq and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Irak (UNAMI), gave to the Security council according to a press release:
Continuing attempts by trained, well-armed and deep-pocketed terrorist and militant groups to impose their will through violence in Anbar, Iraq’s largest province, were threatening the country’s stability and had stifled its legislative process, according to the UN high official.
“The Anbar crisis poses the most serious challenge to the Government of Iraq’s efforts to maintain the very stability and security needed for building Iraq’s democratic State,” Mladenov, said, warning that the crisis was beginning to impact other parts of the country.
Mladenov said that since the onset of the crisis in December more than 66,000 families had been displaced and many remained trapped in areas of active conflict. The intensity and nature of the fighting had significantly constrained access by the United Nations and other humanitarian actors to people in need. Moreover, Iraq’s Council of Representatives had witnessed boycotts by three of its largest blocs, crushing its ability to secure a quorum for most of its session.
Ramadi, the capital of Anbar governorate, had recently returned to Government control, he said. But, isolated pockets of fighting remained and sophisticated booby-trap explosives planted by terrorists in buildings and along roads had thwarted the ability of many families to return to their homes.
The Government’s 14-point plan to restore stability and security in Anbar aimed to build trust among federal, provincial and local actors, and strategic cooperation on the ground, he said. It had set a deadline for ending hostilities, as well as an amnesty period for insurgents not affiliated with terrorist groups. To scale up the police force in the country’s provinces, the Government had recruited 5,000 tribal members and 7,000 local residents from Anbar. It had given 1,940 affected families in Anbar financial compensation and planned to support development projects in the area. But, the cessation of hostilities was short-lived.
“The signs are not promising for an early resolution of the crisis,” he said, stressing that, while a security response was vital to tackle armed groups and terrorists, human rights protection, equality before the law and the inclusion of marginalized groups would be a prerequisite for any political resolution.
Moreover, the situation in Fallujah, which remained under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and other armed groups, was worrisome, he said, pointing to sporadic shelling of neighbourhoods, including of the General Hospital, and civilian casualties. Many residents had fled, but large numbers remained trapped, with limited access to food and basic services. He welcomed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s assurances that the Iraqi Security Forces would not enter the city and that the Government was working towards a political solution that would allow legitimate authorities to return.
The United Nations continued to deliver humanitarian aid where possible, and had recently accessed areas previously unreachable, he said. Still, the Organization’s supplies and those of its partners were diminishing rapidly. Without more funding, aid to people fleeing the fighting in Anbar would end, he warned, calling on Iraq’s Government and the international community to urgently support the $103.7 million Strategic Response Plan launched earlier in the month.
Iraq’s representative, highlighting recent events, said terrorist attacks had plagued his country over the past years and if nothing was done to stop armed groups from attacking civilians, the situation would only worsen. In response to terrorist attacks in the Anbar Province, Iraq had adopted a multifaceted policy to, among other things, protect civilians and to rebuild the area, he said, calling on the international community to help to bring an end the presence of terrorist groups in Iraq.
On regional and global levels, Iraq had taken an active role in anti-terrorism initiatives, he said, expressing support for efforts that aimed at increasing cooperation and information-sharing among neighbouring States to end the spread of armed terrorists. Warning Council members that the absence of a solution to the Syrian conflict would only fuel terrorist actions in the region, he reiterated a call to urgently find a political solution to the conflict. He also pointed out that Iraq was currently hosting more than 250,000 Syrian refugees.