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E-mail : AmnestyIntl@amnesty.eu - Web site : www.amnesty.eu


Catherine Ashton
High Representative of the Union for
Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Vice President of the European Commission




Brussels, 14 August 2014 Our Ref: B1606


Dear Baroness Ashton,

FAC: URGENT NEED FOR PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IN IRAQ

We understand that you have called an emergency meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC)
tomorrow (Friday 15 August) to discuss the current crisis in Iraq. In light of this meeting, please find
below information on the crisis based on Amnesty Internationals latest research as well as our specific
recommendations to the FAC.

Following the advancement of forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) into towns and
villages in northern Iraq since June, hundreds of thousands of people belonging to religious minorities
as well as other groups have been forced to leave their homes. On 2 August, ISIS forces took over
Sinjar, in the north of Iraq. Since then, thousands of civilians from Sinjar and the surrounding areas,
mainly belonging to the Yezidi community, have been stranded in the Sinjar mountains with little
access to food and water. Only two weeks before, on 18 July, a mass exodus of Christian families from
Mosul took place after ISIS gave them an ultimatum to convert - pay a tax, leave, or be killed. Others,
including members of the Shia community as well as Sunnis living in the north, fled their homes in
previous weeks, fearing possible attacks from ISIS or the Iraqi security forces. Many of those displaced
since June have tried and are continuing to try to reach the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, or are currently
sheltered there by friends or families. Others, especially those displaced from Sinjar on 2 August, have
been stranded in nearby mountains for days, with little access to food and water.

While so many minority groups have been forced to flee, more than a million Sunni Muslims living in
Mosul and other ISIS controlled areas have been unable to because of the ongoing fighting between
ISIS and Iraqi and Kurdish government forces, as well as air strikes; some have been killed in air
strikes carried out by the Iraqi government forces. In July, Amnesty International issued a report
(Northern Iraq: Civilians in the line of fire) documenting human rights abuses carried out by ISIS and
by the Iraqi armed forces. The report drew attention to the greater risks civilians faced as air strikes
were being launched more frequently. It also documented several cases of killing and injury of civilians
during Iraqi government air strikes in June and July in and around Mosul.

The United States and the European Union (EU) have announced the delivery of humanitarian aid to
those displaced by the conflict. However, so far such aid has not reached many of those in need. Most
of the hundreds of survivors from the Sinjar mountain, and those who are still stuck there, who spoke to
Amnesty International said that little or no aid had reached them; that water bottles had often broken
on impact where aid had been dropped; or that many had already left the mountains by the time the
aid drops had arrived. Many of those displaced in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq whom Amnesty
International spoke to said they had been helped by relatives or friends, having been left with nowhere
to go. International assistance and a concerted action from the international community, the
Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are urgently needed to meet the
needs of displaced people.

Amnesty International therefore calls on you and EU Foreign Ministers meeting tomorrow to ensure
that:
- adequate protection and humanitarian assistance, including shelter, food, water, sanitation and
essential medical assistance, are provided to those displaced by the conflict
European Institutions Office
Amnesty International European Institutions Office

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- all military action complies with international humanitarian law and human rights law; all
serious violations are thoroughly and impartially investigated; and perpetrators are brought to
justice
- any attacks (by those states directly or indirectly involved in air strikes and other military action
against ISIS) are only directed at military targets; and all feasible precautions are taken to
avoid incidental deaths or injury of civilians.

Yours sincerely,


Dr Nicolas J Beger
Director

Amnesty International European Institutions Office

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Appendix 1

Further material:
14 July 2014, Report. Northern Iraq: Civilians in the line of fire
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE14/007/2014/en/8f5c6eb0-27e4-45d2-ac08-
63fc5840d9a5/mde140072014en.pdf

Press Releases:
11 June 2014, Press release: Iraq: Civilians must be protected following insurgents takeover of Mosul
http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/iraq-civilians-must-be-protected-following-
insurgents-takeover-mosul-2014-0
21 June 2014. Press Release: Hundreds of Indian construction workers possibly stranded in Iraq
http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/hundreds-indian-construction-workers-possibly-
stranded-iraq-2014-06-21
27 June 2014, Press Release: Iraq: Testimonies point to dozens of revenge killings of Sunni detainees
http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/iraq-testimonies-point-dozens-revenge-killings-
sunni-detainees-2014-06-27
01 July 2014, Press release: Iraq: Yezidis captured by ISIS amid mounting sectarian attacks
http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/iraq-yezidis-captured-isis-amid-mounting-sectarian-
attacks-2014-07-01
02 July 2014, Press Release: Iraq: Kurdish authorities must not block passage of civilians fleeing
fighting
http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/iraq-kurdish-authorities-must-not-block-passage-
civilians-fleeing-fighting-
05 August 2014, Press release. Iraqis displaced by ISIS attacks in Sinjar 'desperate' for aid:
http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/iraqis-displaced-isis-attacks-sinjar-desperate-aid-
2014-08-05
07 August 2014, Press release. Mass exodus from Iraqi towns and cities as ISIS advance prompts
panic
http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/mass-exodus-iraqi-towns-and-cities-isis-advance-
prompts-panic-2014-08-07
12 August 2014, Press release. Humanitarian efforts failing the hundreds of thousands forced to flee
ethnic cleansing in northern Iraq
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/iraq-mass-displacement-northern-iraq-2014-08-11

Blogs by Donatella Rovera:
The flight from Mosul: We left everything behind to save our lives (28 July 2014)
https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/donatella-rovera/flight-from-mosul-%E2%80%9Cwe-left-
everything-behind-to-save-our-lives%E2%80%9D

The plight of Iraq's civilian population (05 Jul 2014)
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/07/iraq-minorities-islamic-state-
201474133540646195.html