Geneva: Nearly 19,000 civilians were killed in war-torn Iraq with a staggering total of over 55,000 casualties since 2014, said a new UN report released today. At least 18,802 civilians have been killed and another 36,245 wounded between January 1, 2014 and October 31, 2015, stated a new report jointly compiled by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Of the total number of casualties, at least 3,855 civilians were killed and 7,056 wounded between May 1 and October 31 last year – the period covered by the report. Baghdad, Anbar and Diyala governorates were the most severely affected with Baghdad accounting for more than half of the deaths recording 6,168 civilian casualties.
“Even the obscene casualty figures fail to accurately reflect exactly how terribly civilians are suffering in Iraq,” said the UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. However, the OHCHR and UNAMI say that these figures may be highly underestimated because of the lack of methods to verify certain incidents, the lack of access to some particularly volatile areas and the fear of reprisals by sources.
Between 800 and 900 child soldiers have been abducted by the Islamic State (IS) from Mosul for military training of which many were murdered when they tried to flee from the frontlines of the Anbar province. IEDs continue to be one of the most significant militant tactics that kill civilians.
“During the reporting period, at least 1,717 civilians have been killed from these tactics (IEDs) alone,” said Francesco Motta, chief of the UN human rights office in Iraq.
The UN report also states that the deadly terrorist group that operates in vast swathes of Iraq and Syria continues grave violations of international human rights and
humanitarian law, including “gruesome public spectacles by shooting, beheading, bulldozing, burning alive and throwing people off the top of buildings”.
The UN investigators have documented a number of mass graves, including in areas regained by the government from IS control. Some of the mass graves date from the time of Saddam Hussein, including one that contains 377 corpses, including
women and children apparently killed during the 1991 Shia uprisings against Saddam in the east of Basra.
The civilians seem to be caught between the human rights violations by pro-government forces, IS and the Peshmerga. The UN has confirmed reports of unlawful killings and abductions by the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and associated forces of the government, including militia and tribal forces (Shia, Sunni and others), popular mobilisation units (PMUs), and Peshmerga (pro-government Kurdish forces).
The devastating civil war in Iraq that began in 2014 has internally displaced at least 3.2 million people of which 87 percent are from only the three provinces of Anbar, Ninewa, and Salah al-Din. Iraqis made up the third largest nationality, after Syrians and Afghans, in 2015 who crossed the Mediterranean in unseaworthy boats to seek refuge on the shores of Europe.