BEIRUT

Middle East

EU warns of Iraqi humanitarian crisis

Mourners bury 15 bodies in a cemetery in the village of Taza Khormato near the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, Iraq Monday, June 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Emad Matti)

LUXEMBOURG: The European Union warned Monday of a looming humanitarian crisis in Iraq as Sunni militias advance towards Baghdad, and warned of the danger to regional stability of foreign fighters from Syria.

EU foreign ministers said that the fighting, spearheaded by the radical Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), had led to the "massive displacement of civilians" across the country.

They called on the predominantly Shiite Iraqi government to promote an inclusive agenda and to satisfy Sunni grievances.

The ISIS now controls large areas of Syria and its move into Iraq has badly exposed the weakness of the government in Baghdad, which is being pressed on all sides to change course before it loses the war.

Of special concern was "the flow of foreign fighters (from Syria) which contributes to exacerbating tensions in both countries," the 28 EU foreign ministers said in a statement.

The EU is deeply worried by the departure of hundreds of young Europeans to fight in Syria, fearing they will return home both radicalised and experienced enough to cause serious security problems.

There are reports that some fighters from the EU are already in Iraq.

The ministers, at a regular meeting, also expressed concerns over increasing factional violence in a Libya which "is at a highly critical stage in its transition to democracy," with parliamentary polls set for Wednesday.

There has been a "significant deterioration of the political and security situation," a statement said, noting how events in Libya have a wider impact on a region which only a few years ago offered the hope of the "Arab Spring."

 

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