News in Brief 24 January (AM) - Geneva

24 January 2017

750,000 Iraqis feared at risk in Mosul

Three quarters of a million people are feared to be at risk in the Iraqi city of Mosul 100 days into a government-led attempt to drive out ISIL fighters.

The warning comes from the UN Human Rights Office, OHCHR, and follows reports that civilians have been targeted by ISIL shelling and snipers.

Ravina Shamdasani is a spokesperson for OHCHR:

“We have had several reports of people being shot at as they attempt to flee ISIL-controlled areas of the city…. Reports suggest that ISIL fighters have taken over hospitals in western Mosul city and are using them as military bases and are diverting available resources including food, water and medicine to their fighters.”

Ms Shamdasani said it was hard to verify how many civilians have been killed in the attempt to retake the northern city, as ISIL terrorists have been sheltering in people’s houses and using them as human shields.

As the assault on Mosul continues, High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned Iraqi forces to respect international human rights law.

His comments follow the release of unconfirmed video footage showing terrorists being beaten and shot by government troops in the east of the city.

1.8 million people in Aleppo left without water

Concerns are growing for around 1.8 million people in Syria’s Aleppo where it’s been reported that opposition forces have cut off their water supply.

The information comes from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which says that people in eastern and rural Aleppo have been without water for 10 days.

The issue is linked to a problem at the Al Khafse water station near al-Bab city, an area under ISIL control.

Although the issue at hand can be fixed, OCHA says that it has not been given access to the water station for repairs.

Elsewhere in Syria, some five million people in Damascus are still without clean running water amid ongoing fighting outside the city which has damaged infrastructure.

Kyrgyzstan: Confirmation of sentence against activist “deeply troubling”

A decision to uphold a life sentence against a political activist and journalist in Kyrgyzstan has been described by the UN human rights office as “deeply troubling.”

Azimjan Askarov had been found guilty of several charges, including accessory to murder, incitement of inter-ethnic hatred and hostage-taking in the context of ethnic violence in the south of the country in 2010.

The national court had reconsidered his case over the past three months but on Tuesday confirmed the original verdict.

The UN human rights office has issued a statement which said the decision did not take into account views by independent human rights experts which found that Askarov had been arbitrarily detained, tortured and prevented from adequately preparing his defense.

“The court did not pursue allegations that Askarov had been tortured. The hearing also allegedly relied on the same witness testimonies as the sole source of evidence as in the first trial,” the statement continued.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 2’57”


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