NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 2 – The military campaign to oust ISIS terrorists from Iraq is nearly won, but the humanitarian crisis is expected to continue for months, if not years, the United Nations top official for the country said today.
“Three months after the Mosul military operation started, combat operations in the eastern part of Mosul have come to an end,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Ján Kubiš, told the UN Security Council during a briefing. Italy, who sits in the Council since January 1 as a non permanent member, addressed the meeting congratulating the Iraqi authorities for the sustained military progress in the Mosul area. Italy is determined to give its support to the government efforts against Daesh for the stabilization of the newly liberated areas.
Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi focused on the need of fostering reconciliation among differente ethnic and religious groups so that all voices are represented in the political dialogue. Since 2003, Iraq has lost more than half of its ethnic and religious minority population, Kubiš said. Special attention should therefore be paid to arrangements that address the specific security and other concerns of minorities to enable returns to their homes.
According to Italy, there is also an urgency to speed up humanitarian aid, including psychological assistance to the victims of violence and abuse, including but only, sexual and gender violence: acts which in the future could be prosecuted as war crimes.
Italy is doing a lot in Iraq where cultural heritage has been attacked by Daesh. A special training program of the Iraqi police by the Italian Carabinieri is one of the initiatives put in place to help this very importante country of the Middle East to recover from years of conflict.
Over 1.4 million displaced Iraqis have returned to their homes, including one million in the past 12 months, still, a lot needs to be done. Kubiš said that the Iraqi forces, with significant support from its international partners, will remain engaged in complex urban operations, in particular inside the old city in western Mosul. “Yet, in the rather short foreseeable future, the liberation operations in Iraq are coming to an end – the days of the so-called ISIL in Iraq are counted,” added Mr. Kubiš, who is also the head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
According to an advance summary of the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan submitted by relief aid partners in December, at least $985 million is required this year to reach the 5.8 million most vulnerable Iraqis. Of this, $331 million is being sought specifically for the Mosul response.
“The protection of civilians, the avoidance of steps that could incite sectarian tensions, and the prevention of looting and revenge attacks in Mosul and other liberated areas of the country “constitute first steps in the process of national and community-based reconciliation, in building a new and truly unified Iraq,” Kubiš said in the briefing. (@alebal)