29 Jul 2014

NPA - Assessing Response in Iraq

Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) is currently assessing the situation and how to respond following the incident last week where Iraqi Christians were forced to flee Mosul after Islamist militants gave them the option of joining Islam, paying a fine, or "facing the sword”.The city of Mosul is now controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). After taking over the city a message was read out in the mosques urging Christians to comply or leave the city. Christians who remained until this week had their doors marked, whilst families from many other faiths had already left in fear of segregation and punishment. It is reported that 25,000 Christians left the city which, for the first time in history, has been left with no Christian population.
Read more about it on the BBC website - http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28381455
NPA’s Country Director in Iraq, Julia McDade, says the organisation condemns the displacements of innocent civilians and that they are now working to establish the needs of those who fled and how to respond.
“ISIL forced thousands of civilians to leave their homes. We are still trying to assess the situation and how to respond to people’s needs,” she says.
She anticipates a start-up of assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) sometime next week.
“We are already in talks with local partners about what the IDPs’ need and what our partners can do. We expect to start distributions within a few days,” she adds.    
New edict
McDade, who is based in Erbil, says that NPA is also in close contact with partners in Mosul who report on the changes after ISIL took control.
“They tell us that the city is divided into three groups of people. The first see Daash (the Arabic Word for ISIL) as possible supporters or suppressors of freedom, they provide opportunities and yet create fear in equal measure. The second group see them as terrorists or insurgents. The third group see them as revolutionaries who provide good security hence agreeing and helping with the removal of all the security fences that were built by the Iraqi military throughout the city,” she explains.
People remaining in Mosul report that ISIL has taken control of banks and government institutions. When they entered the city they came with an edict which they have not yet fully implemented.
“However, I expect soon to have to grow my beard and wear white clothes for praying,” said one of the residents that NPA’s partner spoke to.
Electricity shortage
The edict is being distributed in mosques in Mosul. It contains 16 paragraphs, including one obliging people to pray in groups at mosques five times a day; one banning drinking; and one stating that women are obliged to stay at home.
People NPA’s partners have spoken to say that only female nurses and teachers are allowed to work.
They also say they are not able to buy fruit and vegetables in the market after the ISIL takeover due to electricity shortages, meaning refrigerators do not work.
“People are forced to buy supplies every day, meaning they take more time and risks as they move around the city,” said one resident.
The UN issued a statement on July 25 saying they are verifying information about reported FGM in ISIL controlled areas in Iraq.
"“At this point, the United Nations can neither confirm nor deny any reports circulating on the subject with regard to Iraq,” they say.
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