On 18th October, Geneva Call in partnership with Un Ponte Per, Public Aid Organization and Norwegian People’s Aid, organized a conference in Dohuk on the protection of civilians during the military operations in Mosul.
More than 130 representatives from civil society organizations participated in the conference, including the authorities of the Ninawa province, representatives from all religious and ethnic minorities present in Mosul, Yezidi, Christian, Sunni and Shia minorities as well as local and international nonprofit organizations working in the area. Together they adopted a joint declaration in which they called on all parties involved in the current military operations to protect civilian populations regardless of their religion or ethnicity.
The recent military operations in the Ninawa province launched by a coalition of international and Iraqi armed actors could result in a dramatic humanitarian crisis as Mosul is still home to more than 1 million Iraqis. Recruitment of children, sexual violence, acts of revenge, summary executions as well as indiscriminate bombing are some of the violations that may affect civilians.
“It is essential that civil society makes its voice heard to the armed actors and you have to disseminate the values of humanitarian norms within your community.” declared E. Decrey Warner, Geneva Call’s President. “The respect of civilians is important not only during military operations but also for the future.Reconciliation and reconstruction cannot be built on atrocities”.
Many participants stressed the need for accountability, as one attendee said: “it is important to respect humanitarian norms, but also to bring perpetrators of violations to justice”.
Since the beginning of the year, Geneva Call has trained and sensitized more than 800 officers, fighters and members of armed actors and civil society organizations in Iraq on humanitarian norms, including members of the most important forces involved in the Mosul operations.
Of particular note, it has recently conducted a 10-day training of trainers on humanitarian norms for 21 Peshmerga officers, completed several training sessions for officers of the Shia Popular Mobilization Units in Baghdad and sensitized Sunni and Shia tribal leaders. It has also organized a training session for Shia fighters in Kerbala in collaboration with the Shia religious authorities.
In addition, Geneva Call is running a video campaign on the rules of war – Fighter not Killer – that has to date been viewed by more than 7 million Iraqis on Facebook and millions more on the main Arabic and Kurdish Iraqi television networks.
To read the full declaration, please click here.