An impending military offensive to liberate the city of Mosul from the so-called Islamic State, or ISIL, puts populations in Iraq at risk of further mass atrocities. The UN has warned that the humanitarian consequences of the operation could be devastating, stating that “mass casualties among civilians are likely and families trying to flee areas controlled by ISIL are expected to be at extreme risk.” The offensive in Mosul follows the government’s liberation of Fallujah from ISIL during June, a battle that resulted in atrocities perpetrated against civilians by ISIL as well as sectarian reprisals by Shia militias. The UN estimates as many as 1.5 million people could be displaced by the battle for Mosul.
Syrian government forces have encircled the rebel-held area of Aleppo and cut off roads, besieging thousands of civilians who are now beyond the reach of humanitarian assistance. The siege puts as many as 300,000 people at extreme risk of death or injury, according to the UN. Fighting for control of Aleppo between pro-government forces and various rebel armed groups has intensified since 18 July, drastically increasing the risk of further mass atrocity crimes against civilians.
Despite upholding national laws that place harsh and discriminatory restrictions on the country’s Muslim minority, the government of Burma/Myanmar has responded to recent violence that resulted in the destruction of two mosques. On 15 July the government launched a task force to prevent violent protests and investigate incitement to violence. The launch of the task force follows threats to take legal action against the Ma Ba Tha, a Buddhist chauvinist group, if it continues to spread hate speech and incite religious violence.
Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies
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