We’re building a new UNICEF.org.
As we swap out old for new, pages will be in transition. Thanks for your patience – please keep coming back to see the improvements.

Press centre

News note

Horrifying accounts of child rights violations emerge from survivors of violence in north-western Iraq

Dohuk, northern Iraq, 20 August 2014 – Testimonies gathered from civilians who fled the recent offensive by armed groups in the Sinjar district of north-western 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.

Child protection specialist teams sent by the agency 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 border with Syria. 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 (see below**).

"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 how she was rounded up with other women and girls selected to provide sexual services under a forced temporary marriage. The girl said she managed to escape but that 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 psycho-social care and support to more than 3,000 distressed refugee children now sheltering in the Kurdish region of Dohuk.


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

For more information please contact:

Jeffrey Bates, Chief of Communications UNICEF Iraq, jbates@unicef.org,  Tel: +964 (0) 7801964524
Simon Ingram, UNICEF Regional Media Advisor, singram@unicef.org, Tel +962-795904740
Melanie Sharpe, UNICEF New York msharpe@unicef.org +1 917-485-3344

** Editors Note :In 2005, the Security Council requested in Resolution 1612 the UN Secretary-General to establish a monitoring and reporting mechanism (MRM), managed by country-based task forces co-led by UNICEF and the highest UN representative in the country, to provide timely and reliable information on six grave children's rights violations:
1. Killing or maiming of children
2. Recruitment or use of children by armed forces or armed groups
3. Attacks on schools or hospitals
4. Rape or other sexual violence against children
5. Abduction of children
6. Denial of humanitarian access to children
The Security Council requests the UN Secretary-General to list in his annual reports on children and armed conflict the names of armed forces or armed groups that recruit or use children, kill or maim children, and rape or commit other sexual violence against children and urged parties involved in armed conflict to develop and implement time-bound action plans to halt these grave violations against children (Security Council Resolutions 1612 (2005) and 1882 (2009)).





New enhanced search