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Thousands of Iraqis flee ISIS militants in panic as France calls 'urgent' UNSC meeting

The situation for Iraqis in the north-west of their country ” is becoming increasingly dire” according to an Amnesty adviser in the area.

Displaced Iraqis wait for relief aid at a mosque on the outskirts of Irbil, northern Iraq, last week.
Displaced Iraqis wait for relief aid at a mosque on the outskirts of Irbil, northern Iraq, last week.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

TENS OF THOUSANDS of people are reportedly fleeing in panic from advancing ISIS militants in north-western Iraq.

Amnesty International’s senior crisis response adviser Donatella Rovera, currently in northern Iraq, says taht while thousands have fled the Christian city of Qaraqosh in response to ISIS’s arrival overnight, others have been trapped in the town.

“The situation for Iraqis in the north-west of the country, especially those from the Yezidi and Christian minority communities, is becoming increasingly dire as both residents and many of those already displaced are now fleeing their homes and places of shelter,” Rovera said today.

The Amnesty adviser said thousands of Iraqis from minority religions and groups are fleeing in terror of advancing ISIS fighters:

I met a man yesterday in al-Qosh, a Christian town, who for weeks has been working hard to provide shelter and assistance to displaced people – Christians, Yezidis and other minorities who had fled their homes in the recent days and weeks amid ISIS assaults.

Today he and his family have themselves become displaced. He broke down in tears as he told me that last night he and his family fled with only the clothes on their backs – with not even time to take their documents. ISIS is now in the town.

‘Urgent UNSC meeting’

France’s foreign minister has called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting over the crisis in Iraq.

“France is very deeply concerned by the latest advances of (IS militants) in the north of Iraq and the taking of Qaraqosh, the biggest Christian city in Iraq, as well as by the intolerable abuses that were committed,” Laurent Fabius said today in a statement.

“Given the seriousness of the situation – the first victims of which are civilians and religious minorities – France is requesting an urgent meeting of the Security Council so the international community can mobilise to counter the terrorist threat in Iraq and support and protect the population at risk.”

Turkish officials said today that up to 800 people from Iraq’s Yazidi community have fled across the border and into Turkey after escaping attack by jihadists from the IS group.

The Yazidi are a closed community that follows an ancient faith rooted in Zoroastrianism and are scorned by jihadists as “devil worshippers”, a term the Yazidi themselves angrily contest.

- Additional reporting by the AFP

Read: ISIS declares a new Islamic state in Iraq >

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