Anger, grief sweep Iraq's Mosul as ferry disaster toll hits 100

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Relatives of victims of a ferry that sank in the Tigris river, cry outside the morgue in Mosul. (Reuters)
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A man attaches a picture of a missing child on a door, after a ferry sank in the Tigris river, outside a morgue in Mosul. (Reuters)
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Relatives of victims of a ferry that sank in the Tigris river, cry outside the morgue in Mosul. (Reuters)
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Men leave a morgue after collecting the body of their relative, victim of a ferry that sank in the Tigris river, in Mosul. (Reuters)
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Mourners bury one of the victims who died after an overloaded ferry sank in Tigris river near Mosul, during his funeral at Mosul cemetery, Iraq March 22, 2019. (Reuters)
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People pray near the sunken ferry site in Mosul. (AP)
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Iraqi rescuers search for victims on the site where an overloaded ferry sank in the Tigris river near Mosul, Iraq March 22, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 22 March 2019

Anger, grief sweep Iraq's Mosul as ferry disaster toll hits 100

  • Residents of Iraq's second city, scarred by years of extremist rule, demanded justice as Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi decreed three days of national mourning following Thursday's accident
  • Mosulites had resumed the annual festivities this year for the first time since Iraqi forces ousted Daesh following years of brutal extremist rule

MOSUL: The capsizing of a Tigris river ferry packed with families celebrating Kurdish New Year in Mosul left at least 100 people dead, mostly women and children, the Iraqi interior ministry said on Friday, as grief and anger swept the city.
Residents of Iraq's second city, scarred by years of extremist rule, demanded justice as Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi decreed three days of national mourning following Thursday's accident.
Mosulites had resumed the annual festivities this year for the first time since Iraqi forces ousted Daesh following years of brutal extremist rule.
But the celebrations turned to tragedy when the overcrowded vessel ran into trouble as it headed to a popular picnic site across the river Tigris.
Mosul security officials blamed the accident on high water levels and overcrowding on the boat.
Hundreds of relatives of victims and residents gathered Friday at the scene of the accident, where prayers were held for the dead.




Mourners bury one of the victims who died after an overloaded ferry sank in Tigris river near Mosul, during his funeral at Mosul cemetery, Iraq March 22, 2019. (Reuters)


Many said the disaster could have been avoided, and chanted "corruption is killing us!"
"We want those responsible to be brought to justice," said Mohammed Adel, 27, whose father was among those who died.
He accused officials of failing to enforce safety standards.
Abu Salem, who lost his wife and two children in the accident which also coincided with mother's day in Iraq, pinned blame for the tragedy on profit motives and the corruption that is endemic in Iraq.
The managers of the picnic site were "criminals... I want them to pay up and I won't leave here until they do", the 50-year Iraqi said.




A man attaches a picture of a missing child on a door, after a ferry sank in the Tigris river, outside a morgue in Mosul. (Reuters)


Reflecting the popular mood, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, spiritual leader of Iraq's Shiite Mulim majority, in his Friday sermon accused "the authorities in charge of supervision of not doing their job".
Transparency International ranks Iraq in 12th place in its list of the world's most corrupt countries.
Video footage from cameras at the picnic site, posted online, showed a severely overcrowded vessel beginning to list as water comes aboard.
As it capsizes completely, it traps dozens of people under its hull.
Authorities had warned people to be cautious after several days of heavy rains led to water being released through the Mosul dam, causing the river to rise.
Videos showed a fast-flowing, bloated river and dozens of people floating in the water or trying to swim around the partly submerged boat.
Abdel Mahdi said the justice system "must do its job and the investigation must produce results on the reasons for this shipwreck".

Scores of angry protesters swarmed President Barham Salih and Nineveh province governor Nawfal Hammadi Al-Sultan on Friday, forcing them to leave the site of the river ferry accident. 
While war and extremist attacks have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives in Iraq in recent years, such accidents are relatively rare.
But corruption and the dismal state of public services in Iraq were triggers for widespread protests last year.
Daesh turned Mosul into its de facto capital after sweeping across much of the country's north in 2014.
The city spent three years under the group's iron-fisted rule until it was recaptured by Iraqi troops backed by a US-led coalition in 2017.
Survivors of Thursday's disaster were treated in hospitals heavily damaged by the months-long military campaign against the extremists.
A mortuary was receiving bodies wrapped in white shrouds, many bearing the names of women.
A forensics official said many had yet to be identified.
Iraq's justice ministry said it had ordered the arrest of nine ferry company officials and banned the owners of the vessel and the picnic site from leaving the country.
Officials implicated in various scandals have fled Iraq in recent years.


Moscow push to reduce UN cross-border aid to Syria fails

Updated 09 July 2020

Moscow push to reduce UN cross-border aid to Syria fails

  • Moscow wanted to abolish the first crossing point and put a time limit of six months on the second
  • The resolution received only four votes

United Nations, United States: A Russian bid to get the United Nations to reduce cross-border humanitarian aid to war-torn Syria was voted down by the Security Council Wednesday, an official said.
Authorization for the aid, which comes through two crossing points on the Turkish border — at Bab Al-Salam, which leads to the Aleppo region, and Bab Al-Hawa, which serves the Idlib region — expires Friday.
Under its resolution, Moscow had wanted to abolish the first crossing point and put a time limit of six months on the second.
Russia needed nine votes and no veto from a permanent member of the Council to get its resolution passed — but received only four votes, announced the President of the Security Council, German Ambassador Christoph Heusgen.
Seven countries voted against it and four abstained. “The draft resolution has not been adopted, having failed to obtain the required number of votes,” Heusgen said.
Diplomats said that Russia, along with China, Vietnam and South Africa, had voted for the resolution.
Against were the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, Estonia and the Dominican Republic.
Tunisia, Niger, Indonesia and Saint Vincent abstained, the diplomats said.
The vote came after Russia and China on Tuesday vetoed a draft resolution by Germany and Belgium providing for a one-year extension of the cross-border authorization and the maintenance of both crossing points.
In an interview with AFP on Wednesday, Washington’s ambassador to the UN, Kelly Craft, said the US opposed any reduction.
“We know the right thing to do is to have both border crossings in the northwest remain open to reach the maximum amount of Syrians that are in need of humanitarian aid,” Craft told AFP.
When asked if the issue was a “red line,” she replied, “Yes, absolutely.”
Russia’s move “is just another attempt for them to politicize humanitarian assistance,” she said.
According to Craft, keeping only one border crossing open would cut off 1.3 million people living north of Aleppo from humanitarian aid.
The choice to be made between the Western position and that of Russia and China is “between good and evil, right and wrong,” said Craft, noting that Germany and Belgium “already have a new draft in mind and we are very supportive.”
The two European countries submitted their new draft Wednesday evening. In their latest draft text, obtained by AFP, Germany and Belgium asked for just a six-month extension of cross-border aid authorization, instead of one year.
But they have kept both border crossings open, and there is no indication that Moscow — in a position of strength on the subject, as it was six months ago — will be satisfied with the changes.
The result of a forthcoming vote on the new draft, which Russia could again block, is not expected until Friday, when the UN cross-border authorization expires.
Craft in 2019 visited one of the crossing points from the Turkish side near Bab Al-Hawa, an experience that made a lasting impression and made working with displaced Syrians “a personal issue,” she said.
Authorization for cross-border humanitarian aid has existed since 2014, with periodic extensions.
Tuesday’s vote was the 15th time that Russia has used its veto since the start of the Syrian war in 2011, and the ninth for China.
They argue that the UN authorization violates Syria’s sovereignty, and that aid can increasingly be channeled through Syrian authorities.