The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (S/2020/487) issued on 03 June 2020.

Civilians formerly held captive by ISIL in the Syrian Arab Republic, including survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, continued to return to Iraq throughout 2019. In November, the Directorate of Yazidi Affairs of the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs of the Kurdistan Regional Government released statistics regarding members of the Yazidi community who had been reported missing since 2014: of the estimated 6,417 Yazidis abducted, 3,524 have been rescued or escaped from their abductors (1,197 women, 339 men, 1,038 girls and 950 boys), and 2,893 remain missing. These figures do not include other affected groups, such as the Turkmen Shi’a. The Commission for Investigation and Gathering Evidence of the Kurdistan Regional Government, established in 2014 to collect evidence on crimes committed by ISIL, has to date recorded more than 1,000 cases of conflict-related sexual violence, predominantly against Yazidi women and girls. Sexual violence continues to be underreported owing to the fear of reprisals, stigma, the absence of services and ongoing security concerns. Displacement camps constitute sites of heightened risk, given the increased number of female-headed households and perceived affiliation with extremist groups. Humanitarian access to the camps has enabled survivors of sexual violence committed in previous years to seek support. For instance, 16 cases, including eight cases of forced marriage, six cases of rape and two cases of forced prostitution, which occurred in 2015 and 2016, were recently documented. Fourteen of these incidents were attributed to ISIL. Two were linked to the Iraqi security forces. The United Nations also verified five cases of sexual violence committed by ISIL affiliates in the Hawijah district of Kirkuk, their last stronghold in Iraq.

The Iraqi Presidency submitted a draft law on female Yazidi survivors in April, calling for crimes committed against Yazidis to be considered as genocide and for the perpetrators to be held accountable, as well as establishing a national day of remembrance and outlining reparations measures. The draft law, as amended to include other minority groups and children born of rape, is pending adoption by the Parliament. However, there are still no indictments for sexual violence committed by ISIL. The Ministry of Migration and Displacement established a relief programme for Yazidi female survivors of ISIL captivity, known as the survivors’ grant. Between April and July, the Ministry disbursed individual grants of 2 million Iraqi dinars (approximately $1,700) to 899 survivors. Since July, however, budgetary allocations to this scheme have stalled. The Head of the Yazidi Supreme Spiritual Council issued an edict acknowledging the suffering of Yazidi women who were enslaved by ISIL and welcoming their return, though this did not refer to the social integration of children conceived as a result of rape. Challenges relating to holistic service provision, in particular access to justice, livelihood support and mental health care, persist in certain areas. United Nations partners operate 55 safe centres for women and support the functioning of five Government-run women’s shelters.

Recommendation

I commend the Government for its efforts to implement the joint communiqué in partnership with my Special Representative and the United Nations system, and for considering legislation on assistance and reparations for victims. I reiterate the importance of sexual violence prosecutions being conducted in line with international standards and note that ISIL affiliates should be prosecuted for these specific crimes. I urge the Government to ensure protection and assistance for children born of rape and their mothers.

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