UN condemns use of human shields in Mosul battle
The UN Security Council has condemned the use of human shields in Iraq, saying all sides must avoid harming civilians in the battle to drive Islamic State group jihadists from Mosul.
The council met on Wednesday behind closed doors to hear reports from UN human rights and humanitarian aid officials on the situation in the country’s second city as Iraqi forces reached its eastern outskirts.
It was the first time the council discussed the Iraqi military operation in Mosul since it began just over two weeks ago.
Reports of IS group fighters taking civilians from their homes and rounding them up to serve as human shields alarmed council members, said Senegal’s Deputy Ambassador Georgui Ciss, whose country holds the council presidency.
They “condemn the use of human shields and call on all parties to take all feasible precautions with a view to avoiding harm to civilians and civilian objects in accordance with international humanitarian law,” he said.
The council would “not like to see the spread of ISIL to neighbouring Syria”, Ciss added, using an alternate acronym for the jihadist group.
The council urged all UN member-states to contribute to a US$284 million flash appeal for Mosul and humanitarian aid plan, both of which he said were “critically underfunded.”
The operation to retake the northern city - which fell to the IS group in June 2014 - could affect up to 1.5 million people.
Iraqi Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said he was pleased with the council’s support.