"Perfect storm" engulfs Middle East, threatens global peace: UN official

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A family displaced by fighting between ISIS and Iraqi security forces carry their belongings as they walk through the destroyed western neighbourhood of Al Mamum, near Mosul, Iraq. Photo: UNICEF/Alessio Romenzi

A "perfect storm" has engulfed the Middle East and continues to threaten international peace and security, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process has said.

Nickolay Mladenov made the remarks on Thursday during the Security Council's quarterly open debate on the situation in the region.

In many countries, societies have fractured along ethnic and religious lines, displacing millions in what the UN has described as "the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War".

Jocelyne Sambira has more.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, began by paying tribute to the "countless victims of senseless acts of violence" that have plagued the region. 

He urged global leaders to "defeat terror and help untangle the Gordian Knot of political, economic and foreign forces" that are driving the myriad of conflicts in the Middle East. 

Mr Mladenov gave an update on recent developments such as Israel's continuing settlement activity in the West Bank; and on the Palestinian side, he highlighted the Gaza electricity crisis and the strengthening of the Hamas militant group in the area. 

"Hamas continues to tighten its iron grip over Gaza by forming an administrative committee that is seen by many to be a direct challenge to the legitimate Palestinian government. Following the assassination of one of its militants, it temporarily put in place a series of restrictions preventing Palestinians and internationals from leaving and banning fishing for two weeks. On April 6th three Palestinians were executed by Hamas in gross violation of international law and without a fair trial. These actions were condemned by the Secretary-General and I am deeply concerned that further extrajudicial executions are anticipated in Gaza." 

Turning to the broader regional dynamics, the UN Special Coordinator recalled that several states in the region continue to bear "a massive burden from the flood of Syrian refugees" and urged the international community to do more to help. 

Nickolay Mdladenov also pointed to the huge displacements in Iraq during the military offensive to retake the city of Mosul from ISIL extremists, as well as the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East. 

Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations. 

Duration: 1’45″

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