9th UN Forum on Minority Issues – MRG’s statement on minorities in situations of humanitarian crises
Ninth session of the UN Forum on Minority Issues
Agenda item 4: ‘Protecting minority rights during humanitarian crises’
Mr. President, distinguished delegates:
Minority civilian populations face many challenges in humanitarian crises, particularly with regard to access to basic services. In Somalia, displaced minority women continue to experience sexual violence at the hands of members of the dominant clans, who act as gatekeepers to emergency IDP assistance.
Equal access is only ensured through independent monitoring.
After the peace process ended in Turkey in July 2015, armed clashes spread across southeastern Turkey. The government declared blanket curfews in many places; some have lasted for months.
Adequate measures have not been taken to ensure that civilians – many of whom belong to the Kurdish community – can meet their basic needs, including access to food and health services. There are credible accounts of civilians being shot while trying to reach hospitals. According to figures compiled between August 2015 and August 2016, at least 321 civilians were killed in the zones where curfews were declared and clashes taking place. 73 died as a result of not having access to emergency health care.
More than 300,000 children in the region have not had regular access to education. According to one survey conducted among displaced, 41 per cent of the children have not been able to attend school.
The curfews have also meant that independent monitoring groups have not been able to gain access to affected areas. Elsewhere, in West Papua, independent monitoring also remains severely constrained, despite a publicised opening to journalists in May 2015.
Regarding the draft recommendations, MRG would thus suggest the following in para. 23:
Point (e) – add ‘Do not prevent access by independent monitoring groups including media in order to ensure transparency.’
Point (m) – after ‘access to safety’ insert ‘and basic services’ before ‘to all non-combatants, including those with a minority background.’
Point (p) – insert a new point, ‘Prosecute and/or institute disciplinary proceedings against government or humanitarian agency staff who are found to be discriminatory in their delivery of emergency assistance.’
Photo: Members of the Kurdish minority in Turkey. Saeed was just 23 years-old and had been the sole breadwinner in his family. He was a Yazidi Kurd – a religious minority group. He was killed trying to return to his village in Iraq’s north-west region to help others who weren’t able to flee soon after it had come under attack by troops from the militant group, ISIL (the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant). His widow, Khalil, is struggling to look after her three young children, the youngest just four months old, and shares one room with 16 members from her extended family in a bare, unheated building that once served as a military barracks in a desolate coal mining area in Şırnak province, south-eastern Turkey. Credit: Caroline Gluck/EU/ECHO. Published on Flickr under Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic Creative Commons License (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).