U.N. chief troubled by Iraq abuse claims, refugees

Ban Ki-moon said he was worried by abuses of human rights and growing numbers of Iraqis displaced in the conflict

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United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday he was concerned about reported abuses by Iraqi pro-government forces and militias in their war against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

Ban, who read his remarks alongside Iraq's Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, called for the different “volunteer armed groups” - a broad term referring to Shi'ite paramilitary factions - to be brought under government control.

He also told reporters he worried that neither Baghdad nor the world community was capable of taking care of the more than 2.5 million Iraqis displaced in the conflict.

“I am ... concerned by allegations of summary killings, abductions and destruction of property perpetrated by forces and militias fighting alongside Iraqi armed forces,” Ban said after meeting Iraqi officials.

“Alleged violations or abuses of human rights must be investigated and perpetrators need to be held to account,” he said.

The Iraqi government, backed by both Iran and the United States, has been battling ISIS militants, who seized nearly one-third of the country last year. It has relied largely on Shi'ite militias to halt the radical jihadists after the Iraqi military collapsed last summer.

But the Shi'ite paramilitary factions have been accused by Sunnis of carrying out executions and displacing Sunnis from strategic mixed regions in central Iraq, a charge the groups deny.

The double burden of fighting and helping refugees could be too much for Baghdad and its allies, Ban declared, saying: “The threat of additional and secondary displacement during ongoing military operations may overwhelm local and international capacities.”

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