U.N. says Iraq crisis deepening
BAGHDAD – A United Nations report issued Thursday outlined an “ever deepening humanitarian crisis” in Iraq, with thousands of people driven from their homes each month, ongoing indiscriminate killings, and “routine torture” in Iraqi prisons.
Meanwhile, a U.S. airstrike Thursday killed 15 civilians – nine women and six children – and 19 suspected insurgents, the military said. “We regret that civilians are hurt or killed while Coalition forces search to rid Iraq of terrorism,” Maj. Brad Leighton, a U.S. military spokesman, said in a statement.
The assessment by the U.N. Assistance Mission to Iraq, which covered a three-month period ending June 30, found that civilians were suffering “devastating consequences” from violence across the country. It documented more than 100 civilians allegedly killed by U.S.-led forces during airstrikes or raids.
The report described Iraq in more dire terms than last month’s congressional testimony from top U.S. military and embassy officials, which stressed improvements in the security situation.
“The killings are still taking place, the torture is still being reported, the due process issues are still unresolved,” said Ivana Vuco, a U.N. human rights officer in Baghdad.
The first draft of the U.N. report was completed in August, but the U.N. delayed releasing the final version for more than a month following a request by the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, according to a confidential account by a senior U.N. official. Crocker insisted that Iraq be given time to respond to the allegations, the account said.