UN investigative team to support Iraq in exhuming mass graves

Graves

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said this in a statement issued on Thursday.

The UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Daesh (UNITAD) will on March 15 commenced its assist in the first exhumation in the village of Kojo.

Kojo is South of the town of Sinjar, some 100 km west of Nineveh’s provincial capital Mosul, where the IS group killed hundreds of Yazidis in 2014, according to the statement.

Yazidis are a group of people indigenous to Northern Iraq. Some of them identify themselves as ethnic Kurds, but most of them identify themselves as a distinct ethno-religious group.

The UNITAD will provide guidance and support in the exhumation process that will be led by the mass graves directorate of the Iraqi martyr’s foundation, the medical legal directorate of the Iraqi Ministry of Health, the statement said.

“The UNITAD’s priority throughout this process will be the collection of evidence in a manner that meets international standards.

“The evidence will be fully regard to the rights and interests of survivors and the families of victims,” the statement quoted Karim Khan, Head of the UNITAD, as saying.

The exhumation will be conducted with the presence of government officials, Yazidi religious leaders and community representatives, the statement said.

Evidence suggests that hundreds of Yazidi villagers from Kojo, including men, boys and women, were murdered by the IS fighters in August 2014.

Also more than 700 women and children were abducted, according to the statement.

“Women and girls over the age of nine are understood to have been forced into sexual slavery, where they suffered a wide range of violations.

“Boys over the age of seven are said to have been forcibly recruited and made to fight as part of the IS,” the statement added.

It is estimated that the community include around 500,000 Yazidis.