Press Release: For Immediate Release

(New York, 3 August 2018)

Four years after Da’esh (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant/ISIL) deliberately attacked and sexually enslaved members of the Yezidi minority in Sinjar, survivors of sexual violence continue to await justice, medical and psychosocial support, and reunification with missing family members, according to the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Pramila Patten.

On 3 August 2014, Da’esh launched a widespread and systemic campaign of abduction, rape, sexual slavery, human trafficking, and other crimes against the Yazidi community and other minority groups living in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq. Although Da’esh has been defeated militarily, thousands of Yazidis remain missing, and not a single member of Da’esh has been prosecuted for sexual violence crimes anywhere in the world. “The ideology of Da’esh can only be truly defeated if survivors receive justice and redress for the crimes they have suffered and reconciliation can only occur if the missing are found,” said Special Representative Patten.

“When I visited Iraq earlier this year, I heard horrific stories that should shock the conscience of humanity. Out of an estimated 400,000 Yazidi civilians living in Sinjar, at least 10,000 were either killed or abducted. More than 6,400 Yazidis – mostly women and children – were enslaved and transported to Da’esh prisons, military training camps across eastern Syria and northern Iraq, where they were raped, beaten, and sold. Thousands remain missing to this day,” Special Representative Patten stated.

In September 2016, the Government of Iraq and the United Nations signed a Joint Communiqué to prevent and address conflict-related sexual violence. The Government of Iraq has recently announced the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee for the implementation of the Joint Communiqué. Special Representative Patten called on Iraqi federal and regional authorities “to cooperate with each other and swiftly implement the commitments contained in the Joint Communiqué.”

“Four years after the attacks on Sinjar, not a single Da’esh perpetrator of conflict-related sexual violence has faced justice in any court and the needs of survivors and their children, including within the Yazidi community, remain immense,” said Special Representative Patten. “Today, and every day, I stand with the survivors of Da’esh’s sexual violence crimes and pledge that I will continue to fight to ensure that every woman or girl held in captivity is released, that families are reunited, that survivors are supported, and every perpetrator is held to account for these grave violations of international law.”

For media inquiries, please contact:

Ms. Géraldine Boezio

Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict

Tel: +1 917 367 3306    Email:

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