Thursday, August 7, 2014
The humanitarian crisis in Iraq may result in genocide if no immediate action is taken. Around 40,000 Yezidi Iraqi citizens are stuck in the Sinjar Mountains, left stranded without food and water and surrounded by militants of The Islamic State (IS, formerly known as ISIS). The people are completely surrounded and therefore, genocide is looming. The next 24 hours will be crucial in the survival of these people. Immediate action is needed.

The 40,000 Yezidi citizens in the Sinjar mountains are part of a larger number of around 200,000 Yezidi’s who have fled the Sinjar area, near the border with Syria, on Sunday the 3rd of August when the group that calls itself Islamic State (IS) took over their area.

This statement was released by NGO's Pax Christi International, Stichting Vluchteling and Free Press Unlimited. These organisations have been working for a long time in Kurdish Iraq and have close ties to the people now under threat. Free Press Unlimited has been supporting independent media in KRG since 2008.

Looming genocide
The situation is deteriorating rapidly and immediate action is needed. The UN is not able to evacuate the Yezidi people from the mountains without any military cover, as IS possesses anti-aircraft weapons. For the same reasons, food droppings have proven extremely difficult. The people are completely surrounded and therefore, genocide is looming. The next 24 hours will be crucial in the survival of these people.

According to sources, the Kurdish forces fighting IS have been forced to withdraw from the Ninewa plain entirely, and are currently caught up in battle at the border of Dohuk province, near al-Qosh, a Christian village. The taking over of villages by IS in the night of 6-7 August has resulted in a further 100,000 refugees, mainly Christian Iraqi citizens. The rapid advance of IS is extremely worrisome and provides a real danger to all minorities in North Iraq.

We call for:
- An immediate convening of the UN Security Council to address the crisis today;
- the acknowledgement of the severity of the situation and the possible result in genocide of around 40,000 Yezidi Iraqi citizens;
- an immediate investigation of the UN security council and member states into the possible options under its Responsibility to Protect (R2P) for the evacuation of the people in the Sinjar mountains and further instruments to protect other communities at risk.

Finally, PAX calls for a coordinated international effort to address the advancement of IS in Iraq and Syria on the long term. That includes a complete end to the violence, enforcement of sanctions to isolate the Islamic State and bring perpetrators of war crimes to justice.

This urgent appeal for action is supported by Pax Christi International, Pax Christi USA, Pax Christi Italy, Free Press Unlimited, Stichting Vluchteling and NOVACT-International Institute for Nonviolent Action.