#GlobalJustice Weekly - Civilians at risk in Kirkuk | CAR violence escalates

Kurds displaced from Kirkuk by the ongoing conflict between Iraq the Kurdistan region protest outside the US Embassy in Erbil. Photograph: Elizabeth Fitt/Rex

Civilians at risk in Kirkuk

A Kurdish official has claimed that some 400 civilians were killed in Kirkuk and 200 others are missing after a military incursion of the Iraqi army and Iranian-backed Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi was launched on the city on October 16.

Tens of thousands of civilians have since fled Kirkuk fearing persecution since Iraqi armed forces retook the oil-region region following a referendum on Kurdish secession that was rejected by the federal government of Iraq.

"A lot happened to us - we don't own our own house now, we don't even know if we have a house or our things," said Fauziah Hakim Ahmad, a 67-year-old woman who fled Kirkuk. "Since I was a child, I've never seen happiness. It's war after war."

The KRG High Committee to evaluate and Respond to International Reports, has said that it will "continue to urge the international community to address the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in Kirkuk" and that "Popular Mobilization Units has perpetrated acts that are unlawful and against the international standards and national constitution. Deliberate attempts have been done to change the demography of the areas by forcibly displacing the Kurdish people from their original areas of residence and preventing the displaced ones to return to their areas."

The UN Security Council has expressed concern over the violence, and called on all sides to "refrain from the threat and use of force, and to engage in constructive dialogue."

Amnesty International also reported the deaths of at least 11 civilians amid indiscriminate attacks, arson, and looting in predominantly Kurdish areas of the diverse town of Tuz Khurmatu, 65 kilometers southeast of Kirkuk when it was taken over by the Iraqi government last month.

The United Nations and Human Rights Watch have reported civilian deaths, looting, arson, and forced displacements, mainly of Kurds, in Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu.

 

UN Secretary-General visits CAR as violence escalates

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has visited Bangassou in the Central African Republic, one of the regions worst affected by the increasing violence. Almost 2,000 people are currently sheltering in a refugee camp after a dramatic rise in conflict between armed groups in recent months. 

"The situation is very tense and the violence can increase at any time,'' said humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières. "Locals have developed psychological problems. We are being told about injured people who do not dare to come to the hospital for fear of being attacked on the way".

“The UN Secretary General’s visit to the Central African Republic must serve as a wake-up call for the whole international community. There still is time to stop the country from sliding down into the abyss the population had hoped to escape,” said Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council, Eric Batonon.

“The rate of civilian killings in the Central African Republic in 2017 has been alarming, and in many areas across the country civilians are desperate for protection,” said Lewis Mudge, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Security Council should give the mission the resources it needs to protect civilians, including sufficient troop numbers to respond to the resurgence of violence threatening civilians and to protect camps for displaced people.”

 

ICC investigations

DRC: The UN has stated that hundreds of thousands of children in the Kasai region will starve to death in the next few months without emergency food aid. 1.4 million people have been displaced over the past year after clashes broke out between the Kamwina Nsapu armed group and security forces.

Kenya: Heavily armed police are using unlawful force against protesters and bystanders in the western city of Kisumu in what appears to be a campaign to punish inhabitants for continuing to protest amid chaotic elections over the past week.

Libya: The Government of National Accord has said that 36 men whose bodies were found dumped beside a road near the city of Benghazi were killed in a terrorist act. 

 

Preliminary examinations

Colombia: Human Rights Watch has called for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to examine the Colombian government’s inadequate response to a protracted hunger crisis. Wayuu indigenous communities in La Guajira are experiencing extreme malnutrition.

Palestine: Armed groups have vowed to respond to Israel's attack on a tunnel in a southern town of the Gaza Strip late on Monday that left at least seven people dead and nine others wounded.

Afghanistan: Amnesty International has called on Afghan authorities to do whatever they can to protect civilians from attacks by armed groups, following a wave of attacks by armed groups deliberately targeted civilians.

 

Campaign for Global Justice

ICC President Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, calling for enhanced cooperation with the Court and concerted efforts to investigate and prosecute international crimes at all levels.

Budimir Ivanišević, Executive Director of the Humanitarian Law Centre (HLC) in Serbia, has stated that: "The HLC is systematically fighting for justice, which is of crucial importance since there is an obvious lack of political will in the ex-Yugoslav states."

Former ICC President Luis Moreno Ocampo has responded to the previous allegations against him, stating: "The target is not only my reputation, it is about dividing and confusing those who support the International Criminal Court, which was created to do justice for thousands of victims of crimes against humanity."

 

Around the world

Activists in Sri Lanka have called for concerted action to implement UN recommendations on facing up to the legacy of the civil war, including a need to further investigate allegations of abuses by both Sri Lanka's military and secessionist ethnic Tamil Tigers.

The Russian-Syrian joint military operation has carried out unlawful airstrikes in recent weeks that have killed civilians trapped in northern Syria. Evidence collected by Human Rights Watch indicates that some of the attacks struck markets and populated residential areas.

The European Union said on Tuesday that it had allocated the sum of 430 million euros to security and peace building in Africa from 2014 to 2020.