By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraq:

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has announced an early general election for 6th June, 2021, roughly a year ahead of when it would normally be held.

According to Reuters, the Iraqi parliament must ratify the election date.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) welcomed the announcement. The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, said:

“Properly conducted credible, free, fair and inclusive elections can re-energize the political system and build public confidence, giving the people a voice and realizing their aspirations for better representation.”

(Sources: Govt of Iraq; Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence; Reuters, UNAMI)

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano of Germany as his new Deputy Special Representative for Iraq, in the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and Resident Coordinator. Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano will also serve as Humanitarian Coordinator.

Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano succeeds Marta Ruedas of Spain, who retired from the United Nations in May. The Secretary-General is grateful for Ms. Ruedas’ long and dedicated service to the Organization.

Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano brings to this position more than three decades of global expertise in migration and refugee issues, coordinating United Nations development and humanitarian responses, including as United Nations Resident Coordinator in Turkey (2016-2019) and Serbia (2013-2016). Since August 2019, Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano has served as United Nations Regional Director a.i. of the Development Coordination Office for Europe and Central Asia in Istanbul.

From 2010-2013, Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano was the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Director for Migration Management in Geneva, and served as IOM Deputy Chief of Staff in 2009. Prior to that, she served in senior IOM roles in Bangkok, Vienna, Geneva and Manila.

Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano holds a Diploma in International Economic Relations from the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, a Master’s Degree in History, Geography and International Law from the University of Vienna, and a Bachelor’s degree in History, Sociology, Geography and Political Science from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano is proficient in English, German and Czech.

(Source: UN)

The UN Security Council decided unanimously to extend the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) until 31 May 2021, during a 29 May videoconference meeting*.

In adopting resolution 2522 (2020), the Council further decided that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNAMI, at the request of the Government of Iraq, shall prioritize the provision of advice, support and assistance to the Government and people of Iraq on advancing inclusive, political dialogue and national and community-level reconciliation.

By the resolution’s terms, the Council also decided that the Special Representative and Head of Mission shall further advise, support and assist the Government with regard to several initiatives, including constitutional reviews, security sector reform and planning and executing free and fair Iraqi-led, Iraqi-owned elections, and shall promote, support, and facilitate, in coordination with authorities, the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and implementation of programmes to improve the country’s capacity to provide effective essential civil and social services, among other things.

The Council also recognized that the security of United Nations personnel is essential for UNAMI to carry out its work for the benefit of Iraq’s people and called upon the Government to continue to provide security and logistical support to the United Nations presence in the country.

The Council had previously decided on 21 May 2019 to extend UNAMI’s mandate for one year through resolution 2470 (2019).  (See Press Release SC/13819.)

(Source: UN)

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) applauds the Iraqi government’s leadership and decisive response to the COVID-19 outbreak at a time when it is also confronting separate crises, including social unrest and an unprecedented economic downturn.

The UN commends the determination shown by local, regional and national authorities to contain the virus, as well as the success of the early and sustained measures that were adopted with strong support from communities. It nevertheless warns that each and every person plays a critical role in facing the ongoing second wave of infections observed across many governorates.

Recalling her recent statement to the UN Security Council, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert stressed that “no amount of government response can succeed without the active involvement of the entire population”. She added “Despite the high hardship imposed by these measures, we know that they represent our best hope of getting back on our feet as soon as possible”.

The entire United Nations family, with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the lead, is providing critical assistance to Iraq to face the pandemic, including lab and medical supplies, personal protective equipment, funding and technical advice.

“Iraqis can continue to count on the steadfast support of the United Nations during their time of need. The ultimate responsibility lies with individuals, who must play their part by following the instructions of the health authorities to protect themselves and their families”, the Special Representative concluded.

(Source: UN)

Iraq: UN details ordeal of abducted protesters, welcomes Government’s promise to investigate and compensate

A United Nations report published today on the abduction of protesters in Iraq since last October details their ordeals from the time of abduction through interrogation to acts of torture.

In its fourth report on the protests, the UN Human Rights Office of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) documented cases involving 123 people who disappeared between 1 October 2019 and 21 March 2020. Of these, 98 people were located, but 25 remain missing or are in an unknown status.

Since the protests erupted at the start of October, the UN has verified 490 deaths of activists and 7,783 injured. Most of the protesters are young and unemployed, and have been demanding that their economic and social rights be respected. The demonstrations have continued even after the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

The report found that the “absence of accountability for these acts continues to contribute to the pervasive environment of impunity in relation to demonstration-linked reports of violations and abuses”.

“The establishment of a high-level fact-finding committee by the new Government to investigate casualties and related harm is a crucial step toward justice and accountability,” said Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq. “The Government’s commitment to provide medical treatment for injured demonstrators and compensation to the families of victims is encouraging.”

The report notes that the abductions and disappearances occurred amid numerous incidents involving additional violations and abuses targeting activists and protesters, including deliberate killings, shooting and knife attacks, threats and intimidation, and excessive and unlawful use of force at demonstration sites.

None of those interviewed knew the identity of those responsible for their abduction, although most speculated the involvement of ‘militia’. They added that they did not believe official Iraqi Security Forces were directly responsible, nor that ordinary criminal gangs were to blame.

The report does not speculate on who might be behind the abductions, points to “the involvement of armed actors with substantial levels of organisation and access to resources”.

The report provides concrete recommendations to the Government of Iraq, including:

  • Make immediate efforts to comply with its obligations under international law, including by making all efforts to locate those demonstrators and activists who remain missing.
  • Take immediate action to protect protesters and activists from abduction.
  • Take immediate action to investigate all alleged cases of abduction, disappearance and torture/ill-treatment, and to prosecute those responsible.
  • Publicly identify the so-called unidentified force, armed group or ‘militia’, behind the abductions.

The report in English and Arabic:

English: https://bit.ly/2A7oe75

Arabic: https://bit.ly/3ecuHwk

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraq:

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraq:

(Source: UN)

By John Lee.

The United Nations has advertised new positions in Iraqi Kurdistan:

(Source: UN)

467 Iraqi demonstrators have been killed and more than 9,000 injured since the start of the anti-government protests in early October, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has announced:

With ongoing violence and rising casualties in the context of protests and ahead of further planned demonstrations, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, is urging stepped up efforts to break the political deadlock and press ahead with substantial reforms, warning that the use of force costs precious lives and will not end the crisis.

“The continuing loss of young lives and the daily bloodshed is intolerable. At least 467 protesters have been killed and over 9,000 injured since 1 October,” lamented the Special Representative.

“A recent increase in the use of live ammunition by security forces, reported shootings by unidentified gunmen at protesters and the continued targeted killing of demonstrators and human rights defenders are alarming. It is imperative that the Iraqi authorities protect the rights of peaceful protesters and ensure that all use of force complies with international standards. Equally important is full accountability: the perpetrators of unlawful killings and attacks must be brought to justice.”

A climate of fear and distrust will bring nothing but further damage. Political action and progress in the search for solutions must replace indecisiveness to deliver on the many promises and intentions. Building resilience at the state and societal levels is the only way forward to draw the people out of despair and into renewed hope, the Special Representative emphasized.

“Many have sacrificed everything to have their voices heard. Solutions are urgently needed. Iraq cannot afford the ongoing violent oppression nor the political and economic paralysis.”

The Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) has consistently monitored the human rights situation in the context of the demonstrations. Since the beginning of the protests in October, it issued three reports* documenting human rights violations in the periods from 1 October to 9 December and presenting recommendations to the authorities. Since 17 January, UNAMI has recorded at least 19 demonstrators killed and over 400 injured by security forces in Baghdad, Basra, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Diwaniya, Karbala and Wassit. Preliminary information attributes most deaths and injuries to the use of live ammunition and the impact of tear gas canisters, while additional injuries occurred as a result of security forces beating demonstrators with sticks. Most violence used by security forces occurred in the context of attempts to clear roadblocks or disperse demonstrators.

In Baghdad, efforts by security forces to clear the Mohamed Qassem highway and areas in the vicinity of Tahrir Square using live ammunition and tear gas resulted in at least 11 deaths and 53 injuries. In Nasiriya, Dhi Qar on 25 and 26 January, security forces fired live ammunition and tear gas canisters causing at least three deaths and injuring over 100 protesters. Similarly, in Basra, in the early morning of 25 January, security forces demolished more than 20 tents set up by protesters as part of a sit-in and forced the protesters out of the area. In Karbala, security forces also used violence against protesters, resulting in at least 4 deaths and injury to over 150 others. In Diyala, the use of live ammunition by security forces resulted in the first death attributed to this cause and context in the governorate and injured at least four others.

There were cases of unidentified armed men shooting protesters. This happened on four consecutive nights in Basra from 21 to 25 January, killing two protesters and injuring nine others. In Nasiriya, on the night of 26 to 27 January, a group of armed men of unclear affiliation shot live ammunition at protesters in Haboubi Square, killing at least one protester and injuring four more, and set fire to several protestor tents.

Targeted killings continue against demonstrators and activists. Since 1 October, at least 28 incidents have taken place in which persons associated with demonstrations, either as participants, journalists covering the protests or prominent activists, have been targeted by armed men or improvised explosive devices, resulting in 18 deaths and the injury of at least 13 others. The cases include the targeted killing of two Dijlah Television reporters in Basra on 10 January. In Missan alone, credible reports indicate seven incidents in which civil society activists were shot at by armed men, resulting in two deaths and the injury of five others.

UNAMI also continues to track and monitor reports of physical attacks against demonstrators, including stabbings, cases of missing demonstrators and activists, and incidents of threat and intimidation.

Stressing the futility of violence in responding to the protests, Special Representative Hennis-Plasschaert said all efforts should instead focus on how to fully implement reforms and initiate a constructive dialogue to tackle the country’s problems in a spirit of unity.

“It is high time to restore confidence by setting aside partisanship, acting in the interest of the country and its people. Hard work and goodwill gestures will resonate with the people, and will be met in kind, strengthening the country’s resilience as it seeks to emerge stronger from this crisis.”

*links to the three previous reports: https://bit.ly/2OevRx0

(Source: UN)