Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today condemned in the strongest terms the systematic persecution of minorities in Mosul and other parts of northern Iraq as a reported deadline passed for individuals to convert to Islam, pay a tax, flee or face possible execution.
In a statement from his spokesperson, Mr. Ban, who is currently in the Middle East, strongly denounced the actions of the group known as the Islamic State (IS) and its allies.
“Equally repugnant are reports that Turkoman, Yazidis and Shabaks are facing abductions, killings or the destruction of their property,” Mr. Ban continued, “and that the homes of Christian, Shia and Shabak residents in Mosul have been marked.”
He stressed that any systematic attack on the civilian population due to their ethnic background, religious beliefs or faith may constitute a crime against humanity, “All armed groups, including IS and associated formations, must abide by international humanitarian law and protect civilians living in areas they control.”
Mr. Ban noted that recently “minority communities that have lived together for thousands of years” in Ninewa province, whose main city is Mosul, have come under direct attack and persecution by IS and associated armed groups.
In the past few weeks, tens of thousands of members of ethnic and religious minority groups have been displaced or forced to flee and seek refuge, while many others have been executed and kidnapped.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, who visited Iraq last week to see the conditions facing some of the displaced families, warned that Iraq risks “full-fledged sectarian war and complete fragmentation” as Iraqis continue to flee their homes and minority groups are targeted.
The UN will continue to intensify its efforts, in cooperation with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government, to address the urgent humanitarian needs, Mr. Ban said, including the minority groups displaced by terrorist threat.