Reports of "violent clampdown" on people fleeing ISIL in Iraq

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OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani. UN File Photo

Reports suggesting a violent clampdown on people attempting to flee ISIL-controlled areas in Iraq have been received by the UN human rights office (OHCHR).

It appears that civilians have been attempting to escape the terrorist group by taking a very difficult journey through the Hamrin mountain chain in the north east of the country.

At least four families, including children and elderly people, reportedly died earlier this month after attempting the journey without a guide and with few supplies.

Stephanie Coutrix reports.

The UN human rights office says that according to sources, the journey takes eight to 12 hours in very hot weather through uninhabited areas without signage or paved roads.

ISIL gunmen have also reportedly begun to set ambushes for people fleeing and snipers have attacked and killed those caught. 

In one incident, three taxi drivers are said to have been recently executed in Shirqat, for assisting residents in making the passage through the Hamrin mountain chain.

Here's OHCHR Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani.

"ISIL continued to viciously target those perceived to be opposed to its ideology and rule, with despicable violence. On 20 July, for example, ISIL reportedly publicly killed an Imam in western Mosul following a decision by a self-appointed so-called court.  Any intentional direct attack against civilians is considered a serious violation of international humanitarian law."

Ms Shamdasani added that all parties must ensure that civilians are protected, and that they are able to safely leave areas affected by violence.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1'04"

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