Iraq: Islamic State may be harvesting human organs
United Nations – — Iraq’s ambassador to the United Nations asked the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday to look at allegations that the Islamic State group is using organ harvesting as a way to finance its operations.
Ambassador Mohamed Alhakim told reporters that in the past few weeks, bodies with surgical incisions and missing kidneys or other body parts have been found in shallow mass graves.
“We have bodies. Come and examine them,” he said. “It is clear they are missing certain parts.”
He also said a dozen doctors have been “executed” in Mosul for refusing to participate in organ harvesting.
Alhakim briefed the council on the overall situation in Iraq and accused the Islamic State group of “crimes of genocide” in targeting certain ethnic groups.
The outgoing U.N. envoy to Iraq, Nikolay Mladenov, told the council that 790 people were killed in January alone by terrorism and armed conflict.
Mladenov noted the increasing number of reports and allegations that the Islamic State group is using organ harvesting as a financing method, but he said only that “it’s very clear that the tactics ISIL is using expand by the day.” He used an acronym for the group.
He said Iraq’s most pressing goal is to win back the vast territory that the Islamic State group has seized in the past year. The Sunni militants seized a third of both Iraq and neighboring Syria and imposed strict Sharia law.
“Especially worrying is the increasing number of reports of revenge attacks committed particularly against members of the Sunni community in areas liberated from ISIL control,” Mladenov said.
Meanwhile, the United Nations envoy to Syria said he has received a commitment from the Syrian government to suspend airstrikes and artillery shelling on the city of Aleppo for six weeks to allow a proposed U.N. plan to “freeze” hostilities in the country’s largest city to be tested.
Staffan de Mistura was briefing the Security Council in closed session on his latest efforts to find a solution to the grinding civil war.
There was no indication of when the suspension of airstrikes would begin, but the envoy said he will return to Syria “as soon as possible” to assess whether the government’s commitment is possible and to announce a start date.
He called the new development a glimmer of hope. And he continued to emphasize a political solution to the nearly four-year conflict.
But questions remain. De Mistura now has to get the opposition’s support for the plan, which includes a request for them to suspend rocket and mortar fire in the same period. And Syria’s ambassador to the U.N. refused to comment after the council meeting.
“Let’s be frank. I have no illusions,” de Mistura told reporters. “Based on past experiences, it is a difficult issue to achieve.”
This was de Mistura’s first council briefing since he explained his freeze plan in October, and council members wanted to know what kind of support, if any, it received from President Bashar Assad in his meeting with de Mistura earlier this month.
Action to end Ebola
The U.N. Ebola chief says the goal set by the presidents of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea of reducing the number of new cases of the deadly disease to zero by April 15 can be reached — but only if local communities stop unsafe burials and hands-on healing practices.
Dr. David Nabarro told the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday that there are now 10 times fewer people diagnosed with Ebola each week than there were last September. But he said preventing the final 120 to 130 new cases per week is probably going to be the hardest because it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.