Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council today deplored the kidnapping of Turkish diplomats in the Iraqi city of Mosul, while the United Nations humanitarian arm reported that hundreds of thousands of people have fled the area amid rising violence.
Islamic insurgents seized Iraq’s second largest city on Tuesday following days of fighting against Iraqi Government forces. As many as 500,000 people have reportedly fled Mosul in the wake of the violence, and today, terrorists kidnapped the Consul General of Turkey and several consulate staff working in the city.
“This is totally unacceptable,” Mr. Ban said, as he addressed an event at UN Headquarters related to terrorism. “As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I am condemning in the strongest possible terms such a terrorist attack against diplomatic officers.”
In a separate statement issued by his spokesperson, the Secretary-General strongly condemned the upsurge in violence in Iraq at the hands of terrorist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which have reportedly taken control of the cities of Mosul, Tuz Khourmatu, Beiji and Tikrit.
“Terrorism must not be allowed to succeed in undoing the path towards democracy in Iraq as determined by the will of the Iraqi people,” said the statement. “The Secretary-General urges the international community to unite in showing solidarity with Iraq as it confronts this serious security challenge.”
Members of the Security Council deplored the recent events in Mosul, and condemned the recent terrorist attacks that are being perpetrated against the people of Iraq “in an attempt to destabilize the country and region,” Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia, which holds the Council’s presidency for June, said in a statement to the press.
“The members of the Security Council strongly denounced the taking of hostages at the Turkish Consulate and insist on the immediate and safe return of all personnel,” he added.
Council members also expressed grave concern for the hundreds of thousands of individuals who have fled their homes seeking refuge in other areas of Iraq, and voiced gratitude to host communities that have opened their doors to those seeking shelter and food.
On the humanitarian front, Iraqi authorities have informed the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that thousands of families have fled Mosul to safe areas surrounding the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Also, more than 2,500 families remain displaced inside Mosul, mostly living in schools and mosques.
An estimated 100,000 displaced people have entered Erbil, where UNHCR is mobilizing tents and distributing other essential relief items. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and partners are providing water and sanitation support in the area. Another 200,000 people have fled to Dohuk, where UN agencies and their partners are preparing to deliver food, water and shelter.
Inside Mosul, UNICEF has received reports that none of the five hospitals is functioning, and that shops and markets are closed. The agency is working with partners to meet the rapidly rising needs of displaced families and children, and of those who remain behind.
Marzio Babille, the UNICEF Representative in Iraq, noted that the situation facing children is “extremely alarming,” with their lives having been shattered almost overnight by the escalating violence.
“The situation is dire and is worsening by the moment,” Mr. Babille said. “We have to reach children with safe water, shelter, food, and protection – they cannot wait.”
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the new wave of displacement from Mosul exacerbates an already severe displacement crisis in the area. Since January of this year, hundreds of thousands people have been displaced by months of unrest in Anbar province. Donor funding has been extremely limited, with only 10 per cent of the required $103 million needed to aid displaced families having been received to date, the Office added.