Wednesday, 03 August 2016 03:00

Two years after ISIL’s attacks on Sinjar, Iraq, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, demands justice and support for the victims

New York, 3 August 2016: Two years ago today, on 3 August 2014, fighters from the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)/Da’esh attacked the Sinjar region of Northern Iraq. ISIL has waged a widespread and systemic campaign of sexual and gender-based violence, unseen and unimaginable in the 21st century, against the Yazidi population, and other minority groups such as the Turkmen Shia, Shia Shabak and Christian communities, causing countless civilians to flee their homes.


During the attacks on Sinjar, young Yazidi women and girls were separated from the elderly by their captors. Elderly women and men were brutally killed and the young women and girls were forcibly transferred and sold into sexual slavery; priced on the basis of their age, appearance and virginity. These women and girls, sold as chattels of ISIL, have been raped and abused continuously in the hands of their captors. The pattern of abduction, rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, and human trafficking, instituted by ISIL more than two years ago, continues to this day.

“When I visited Iraq in 2015, I heard stories of sexual violence that shook me to my core. Yazidi girls described being registered on lists, sold in modern-day slave markets, and then raped by fighters. There is no doubt in my mind that ISIL targeted Yazidis for sexual violence with the intent to destroy the Yazidi population. Right now, there are thousands of Yazidis, including women and girls, still missing.”

“There are major military campaigns against ISIL underway, but now more than ever, we need a true international justice process for these crimes – one that has the confidence of the victims, the people of Iraq, and the international community,” said Bangura. “Such a justice process will be another effective tool to degrade ISIL’s capabilities, while reaffirming the dignity and humanity of their victims.”

Special Representative Bangura also stated that: “Yazidi women and girls, and other victims of ISIL’s atrocities remain in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and social support”. In this regard, she called on all religious and community leaders in the region “to use their moral authority to help families and communities understand that the stigma and shame of rape always rests with the perpetrators, and never with the victims.”

“The extreme acts of sexual violence committed by ISIL cannot go unpunished,” said Special Representative Bangura. “Today, on the anniversary of the Sinjar attacks, we must renew our commitment to the women and girls who have suffered some of the most unspeakable atrocities of our time. We will not forget them. The international community stands united in the goal of pursuing the perpetrators and holding them to account.”

For media inquiries, please contact Letitia Anderson, Office of the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, New York. Tel: +1 212 963 0910; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Additional Info

  • Agency: UNAMI
  • Note on methodology

    In analyzing civilian casualties, UNAMI utilizes as wide a range of sources and types of information as possible, which are analyzed for reliability and credibility. Attempts are made to crosscheck and verify such information from other sources before conclusions are drawn and published. Sources include, for example, testimony of victims, victims’ relatives, witnesses, and evidence provided from health personnel, community elders, religious and civil leaders, local, governorate and central Government departments and officials, UN and other International Organizations, the United Nations Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) and UNAMI Security Section (SSI), media reports, members of the international community, civil society, and NGOs. Where security does not permit direct access to the location of an incident, UNAMI relies on a range of techniques to gain information through reliable networks.

     Every effort is made to ensure that data contained in UNAMI reports is as comprehensive as possible; however, the data presented is not exhaustive. Where UNAMI is not satisfied with the evidence concerning a particular incident it will not be reported. In some instances, investigations may take several weeks before conclusions can be made. This also means that conclusions concerning particular incidents or alleged violations may be adjusted as more information comes to hand and is analyzed. However, if information is equivocal, then conclusions will not be drawn until more satisfactory evidence is obtained, or the case will be closed without conclusion and it will not be included in statistical reporting or analysis. As information is updated, and conclusions and statistics are modified, this can result in slight differences in reporting of the same incident or variations in statistics reported by UNAMI over time.

    In some incidents where civilian casualties are alleged, the status of the reported victim(s) as civilian is disputed or is equivocal.  In such cases UNAMI is guided by all the information to hand, as well as the applicable standards of international humanitarian and human rights law in determining whether the victim should be classified as a civilian, as a person actively participating in hostilities, or as status unknown.

    In light of the above-noted limitations in methodology, UNAMI does not claim that the information it provides is complete, and it may well be that UNAMI is under-reporting the extent, nature or seriousness of the effect of armed violence and acts of terrorism on the civilian population.


  • Summary

    Month Killed Injured
    December 2018 32 32
    November 2018 41 73
    October 2018 69 105
    September 2018 75 179
    August 2018 90 117
    July 2018 79 99
    June 2018 76 129
    May 2018 95 163
    April 2018 68 122
    March 2018 104 177
    February 2018 91 208
    January 2018* *** 119 269
    December 2017 * ** 69 142
    *November 2017 117 264
    October 2017 114 244
    September 2017 203 389
    August 2017 125 188
    July 2017 241 277
    June 2017 415 300
    May 2017 354 470
    April 2017 317 403
    March 2017 548 567
    February 2017 392 613
    January 2017 403 924
    *December 2016 386 1066
    November 2016 926 930
    October 2016 1120 605
    September 2016 609 951
    August 2016* 473 813
    July 2016 * 629 1061
    June 2016 382 1145
    May 2016 * 468 1041
    April 2016 410 973
    March 2016 575 1196
    February 2016 410 1050
    January 2016 490 1157
    December 2015 506 867
    Novemer 2015 * 489 869
    October 2015 * 559 1067
    September 2015 537 925
    August 2015 585 1103
    July 2015 844 1616
    June 2015 665 1032
    May 2015 665 1313
    April 2015 535 1456
    March 2015 729 1785
    February 2015 611 1353
    January 2015 790 1469
    December 2014 680 1360
    November 2014 936 1826
    October 2014 1089 2074
    September 2014 1084 2084
    August 2014 1533 1994
    July 2014 1384 2122
    June 2014 1775 2351
    May 2014 798 1607
    April 2014 745 1836
    March 2014 640 1845
    February 2014 862 2377
    January 2014 756 1650
    December 2013 661 1201
    November 2013 565 1186
    October 2013 852 1793
    September 2013 887 1957
    August 2013 716 1936
    July 2013 928 2109
    June 2013 685 1610
    May 2013 963 2191
    April 2013 595 1481
    March 2013 229 853
    February 2013 418 704
    January 2013 319 960
    December 2012 230 655
    November 2012 445 1306

    Please note that all figures remain estimates until full investigation and analysis has been carried out.

    *All casualty figures in the table include Anbar casualty figures, apart from the months marked with an asterisk (*).

    ** Figures include police in non-combat function, Sahwa civil defence, Personal Security Details, facilities protection police, and fire department personnel.

    *** Revised figures to include police in non-combat function, Sahwa civil defence, Personal Security Details, facilities protection police, and fire department personnel.


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