Thursday

21st Jun 2018

EU counts humanitarian cost of Iraq crisis

  • 'All our partners are telling us they do not have the resources to scale up aid to Iraq' (Photo: European Commission)

EU institutions say up to 500,000 people have fled Mosul, Iraq, after the city fell to anti-government rebels on Tuesday (10 June).

About 200,000 of them headed to Duhok, in the Kurdish-controlled part of north-east Iraq, 100,000 headed to the Kurdish capital of Erbil, while the rest showed up between Kurdish checkpoints.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join as a group

Most of them told Kurdish officials and international aid workers they plan to go on to Kirkuk, in Iraq proper, or Baghdad. But a third group “left very quickly, with no belongings, and don’t know what to do next”.

“My understanding is that when the Iraqi army folded in Mosul there was a kind of organised panic. Most people left for preventive reasons, because of their allegiances [with the Iraqi government]. But the scene is set for widespread violence: different religious or tribal groups vying for control and Iraqi aerial attacks”, an EU source based in the region told EUobserver.

EU officials are gathering information on what is needed in terms of humanitarian aid.

They say the situation is “very fluid” amid speculation the rebels might next target Kirkuk or Baghdad itself.

Iraqi and Kurdish authorities have asked for extra help. But the EU source noted that “all our partners are telling us they do not have the resources to scale up aid to Iraq at this point in time”.

The main force in the insurgency is the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Isis).

The US-based NGO, Human Rights Watch, says it is guilty of brutality against civilians in Syria and in north-west Iraq, some of which amounts to “crimes against humanity”.

The EU and delegates from the League of Arab States at a meeting in Athens on Wednesday called for a tough response.

They said in a joint communique that “Iraq and the government of the Kurdistan region [should] combine their political and military forces in order to restore security”. They also called on “all states” to implement existing UN and EU sanctions against Isis.

With Isis taking hostage dozens of Turkish diplomats in Mosul, Turkey has threatened to retaliate if they are harmed.

But Nato, which held an emergency meeting at Turkey’s request also on Wednesday, said it will not get involved. “I don't see a role for Nato in Iraq. We don't have a mandate. We don't have a request,” its secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said on Thursday.

For her part, EU humanitarian aid commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said the situation is more complicated than it appears at first glance.

Isis, a radical Sunni Muslim group, has support from some ordinary Sunni Muslims who feel oppressed by the Shia Muslim-led Iraqi government. It also has support from elements of the late Saddam Hussein’s disbanded army.

“The roots of this latest crisis are complex and include the alienation of the beleaguered Sunni Arab population, a state of generalised violence, opportunistic armed opposition groups, and a spill-over effect from the terrible war raging in Syria,” Georgieva said on Thursday.

Both Georgieva and Human Rights Watch urged Iraq to respect the law in its response.

The EU source based in the region added: “It’s not helpful to see this in terms of the ‘War on Terror’.”

“The Iraqi government has played a part in what’s happening by crushing Sunni Muslim protests. It’s not just a bunch of terrorists in pick-up trucks. It’s a very well organised paramilitary force”.

The contact added that while the fall of Mosul caused “surprise” in EU circles it was “an operation organised over the last 18 to 20 months … it was an entirely predictable surprise.”

EU foreign ministers are to discuss the situation at a regular meeting in Luxembourg on 23 June.

An EU diplomatic contact said ministers had originally planned to praise Iraq for holding elections in April and to “encourage reform”.

“There might not be an Iraq any more when we come to write the new conclusions on Iraq,” he added.

Analysis

Trump befriends Conte, depresses EU

Most EU leaders found US president Donald Trump "depressing" at the G7, but one of them - Italy's Giuseppe Conte - made a new friend.

Opinion

Europe could lose out in North Korean bonanza

South Korean businesses including Hyundai and Samsung are already scoping investment opportunities. Will North Korea become a 'new Vietnam' opportunity - or more like Myanmar, where slow Brussels policy-making meant EU exporters lost out.

News in Brief

  1. Romania's ruling party leader gets jail sentence
  2. EU states defer individual decisions on asylum reforms
  3. Commission opens case on Qatar gas flow
  4. EU adopts posted workers directive
  5. EU leaders to call for 'coordinated plan' on AI
  6. May passes Brexit bill after rebels accept compromise
  7. Pope: populists 'creating a psychosis' on migrants
  8. MEPs want to restrict use of antibiotics

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  2. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  4. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  7. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  9. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  10. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  12. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us