A new report jointly released by four nongovernment organizations warns that minorities in Iraq, including Christians, could soon disappear because of ISIS’ continuing assault and advance in the country after Mosul fell in 2014.
ISIS has committed “war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide, including summary executions, killing, mutilation, rape, sexual violence, torture, cruel treatment, the use and recruitment of children, and outrages on personal dignity” against Iraq’s religious and ethnic minorities, the report said.
The report, titled “No Way Home: Iraq’s Minorities on the Verge of Disappearance,” provides details on how many of Iraq’s minorities have been killed, abducted and injured in the past two years. It also documents the conditions in the refugee camps.
Prior to 2003, there were around 1.4 million Christians in the country. However, that number has dwindled to less than 250,000 now. The Yazidis have been forced to flee their homes and many of them either have left the country or have become internally displaced.
“This situation of protracted displacement is causing further tensions to an already dire situation, which highlights the urgent need for a long-term focus that goes beyond immediate security and relief,” Green said in a statement.
Many of those who have been displaced had hoped to return home someday, but the lack of basic services has caused them to leave the country altogether.
William Spence Spencer from the Institute for International Law and Human Rights said that as homes and properties are destroyed and looted, survivors will have nothing to go home to unless Iraq and other nations intervene to help the minorities.
The report also warned that if ISIS should retake Mosul, a million people could be displaced over the next year.
The present report is a follow-up from last years “Between the Millstones: The State of Iraq’s Minorities Since the Fall of Mosul,” which noted that the violence against Iraq’s religious and ethnic minorities appears to be “a systematic strategy to remove these communities permanently from areas where they have lived for centuries.”
Alison Smith from No Peace Without Justice urged the Iraq government to take measures to help the minorities, such as referring the case to the International Criminal Court.