New U.N. rights boss urges world to protect women in Iraq، Syria

Zeid Ra`ad al Hussein، Jordan`s former U.N. ambassador، in a hard-hitting maiden speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council، said any country run by Islamic State “would be a harsh، mean-spirited، house of blood”.

Islamic State`s Sunni Muslim fighters have over-run large parts of Syria and Iraq since June، declaring a cross-border caliphate. The Geneva-based Council last week agreed to send a team to investigate crimes committed by the group on “an unimaginable scale”.

“In particular، dedicated efforts are urgently needed to protect religious and ethnic groups، children – who are at risk of forcible recruitment and sexual violence – and women، who have been the targets of severe restrictions،” Zeid told the forum.

He also called on Iraq`s new government and prime minister to consider joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ensure accountability for crimes committed there. 

Zeid described ISIL as “takfiris” – people who justify killing others by branding them as apostates.

“In the takfiri mind، as we have seen in Nigeria، Afghanistan، Pakistan، Yemen، Kenya، Somalia، Mali، Libya، Syria and Iraq، and throughout the world where they have attacked innocent people، including on 9/11، there is no love of neighbour – only annihilation to those Muslims، Christians، Jews and others، altogether the rest of humanity، who believe differently to them،” Zeid said.

In wide-ranging remarks، he called for an end to Israel`s seven-year blockade of Gaza and said Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank deserved to lead a normal life free of illegal settlements and what he called excessive use of force.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Andrew Heavens