MS Risk Blog

UN Reports Thousands Yazidis Held Captive by IS

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The United Nations has reported that thousands of Yazidis are being held captive by the so-called Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, where many are used for sexual slavery or forced to fight for the group. The report comes on the second anniversary of what investigators have termed a genocide.

A UN-appointed commission of independent war crimes investigators disclosed in June that IS was committing genocide against the Yazidis, which is a religious community comprising of 400,000 people in northern Iraq. It noted that the genocide began with an attack on their city of Sinjar on 3 August 2014. The UN further disclosed that most of the captives have been taken to neighbouring Syria, “where Yazidi women and girls continued to be sexually enslaved and Yazidi boys indoctrinated, trained and used in hostilities.” The UN has reported that around 3,200 Yazidi women and girls are being held captive and that thousands of men and boys remain missing.

The designation of genocide, rare under international law, would effectively mark the first recognized genocide carried out by non-state actors, rather than a state or paramilitaries acting on its behalf.

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