Militants Sweep towards Baghdad: Women's Rights Groups Mobilize
Posted on: Thursday, June 12, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Kat Noel, MADRE Media Coordinator, 1-212-627-0444
In the past 48 hours, militants have seized control of cities across northern Iraq, including Mosul, the country’s second largest city. Led by the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), the insurgents’ rapid advance is raising fears of an all-out civil war as they move south towards Baghdad. The approach of this armed offensive is escalating sectarian tensions and the threat of violence even in areas beyond insurgents’ control.
MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization, is mobilizing an emergency response to protect people at severe risk as the threat of sectarian violence grows.
Yifat Susskind, MADRE Executive Director, said today, “In a climate of rising sectarian violence, those championing secularism and human rights are particular targets. MADRE is activating a strategy to secure the safety of our partners at the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) and the women they serve.”
OWFI has identified an urgent need to relocate residents of their women’s shelters, located in neighborhoods with deep sectarian divisions. In addition to the shelter residents, OWFI staff and supporters are also at risk because of their vocal support for secularism and women’s rights.
Yanar Mohammed, President of OWFI, said today, “Armed militias are everywhere in the streets of Baghdad.” She reported that, in some neighborhoods, sectarian tensions are already so high that people are afraid to leave their homes even to buy food.
Yifat Susskind of MADRE went on to say, “This surge of violence signals a return to the worst days of the sectarian fighting that was triggered by the US invasion. In fact, these divisions are directly traceable to policies advanced by the US that exacerbated distinctions between Sunni and Shia. These policies pushed Iraq away from secular government in favor of distributing authority according to religious affiliation.”
MADRE and OWFI are partnering to provide emergency relocation, food and shelter to the women in the safe houses. In particular, the organizations are working to relocate a shelter into a neighboring city less marked by sectarian division.
Available for interview:
Yanar Mohammed, President of OWFI, an Iraqi women’s human rights organization, works to shelter women escaping violence and denounce violations of women’s human rights.
Yifat Susskind, MADRE Executive Director, works with women’s human rights activists from Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East, creating programs to address violence against women, economic development, climate change, armed conflict and more.
Learn more about our emergency response efforts here.
Archives"Press Releases" Home November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 June 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 September 2013 August 2013 June 2013 March 2013 February 2013 September 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 November 2010 October 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 September 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 January 2009 October 2008 September 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 February 2008 January 2008 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 March 2007 February 2007 December 2006 October 2006 July 2006 June 2006 September 2005 January 2004 August 2001
MADRE & Our Partners Make News
Iraqi government 'likely complicit' in persecution of LGBT community (The Guardian, November 19, 2014)
LGBT Iraqis face 'imminent risk of death' under Islamic State (Washington Blade, November 19, 2014)
Iraq: "When Coming Out is a Death Sentence" (San Diego Gay & Lesbian News, November 19, 2014)
The World's Obsession With Schoolgirls As Victims, And Why It's Putting Them In Danger (Think Progress, November 9, 2014)
Forbidden Talk - Prostitution in the Middle East (Levant TV, October 7, 2014)