NEW YORK (August 20, 2014) – Testimonies gathered from civilians who fled the recent offensive by armed groups in the Sinjar district of northwestern Iraq have revealed appalling accounts of killing, abduction and sexual violence perpetrated against women and children, according to UNICEF.
"The type and scope of violations against children, women and minority communities in Iraq in the past weeks is one of the worst seen in this century, and is completely unacceptable by any standards or codes of conduct that govern conflict," said Dr. Marzio Babille, UNICEF Iraq Representative.
UNICEF child protection specialist teams have so far documented 123 separate cases of rights violations carried out by armed groups when they attacked Yazidi and other minority groups living in areas of Ninewa province, close to the Syrian border. So far, 80 of these cases have been verified during investigations carried out by UNICEF, under its work within the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) on grave violations of children's rights in situations of armed conflict.
Upon the request of the UN Security Council, the MRM was established by the Secretary General in 2005 to provide timely and reliable information on the following six grave children's rights violations: Killing and maiming of children, recruitment or use of children in armed conflicts or armed groups, attacks on schools or hospitals, rape or other sexual violence against children, abduction of children, and denial of humanitarian access to children.
"Almost every individual we have spoken to has given a horrific account of violations they or members of their family or community have witnessed or experienced," said Ibrahim Sesay, UNICEF child protection specialist.
One sixteen-year-old Yazidi girl told interviewers that she was rounded up with a group of other women and girls and selected to provide sexual services under a forced temporary marriage. Though she managed to escape, others were taken away.
"The agony these girls and women are now suffering as a result of such ordeals requires an urgent scaling up in the provision of specialist mental health care, and medical support as part of the broader response to this unfolding tragedy, “said Sesay.
UNICEF has so far provided psychosocial care and support to more than 3,000 distressed refugee children now sheltering in the Kurdish region of Dohuk.
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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
For additional information, please contact:
Susannah Masur, U.S. Fund for UNICEF, 212.880.9146, [email protected]