Amnesty report reveals horrors faced by Yezidi child survivors under IS captivity

On Thursday, Amnesty International published its report, Legacy of Terror: The Plight of Yezidi Child Survivors of ISIS, through which to urged the Iraqi government to step in to provide a safer environment to Yezidi children who returned from Islamic State’s captivity. The humanitarian organisation also raised the issue of ending forced separation of women and their children born of sexual violence by IS members.

The group warned that about 2,000 Yezidi children, who returned from the clutches of the Islamic State group in recent years, were battling with serious psychological and physical traumas. The 57-page report highlighted the horrendous human rights abuses these children faced ranging from physical, sexual to psychological harassment. Some even lost their limb.

Matt Wells, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Crisis Response said that though the horror of their ‘past has receded’, but the hardships of these children haven’t ended yet. He said, “After enduring the horrors of war at an extremely young age, they now need urgent support from the national authorities in Iraq and the international community to build their future,”

Survivors of horrific crimes, these children now face a legacy of terror. Their physical and mental health must be a priority in the years ahead if they are to fully reintegrate into their families and community.

Matt Wells, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Crisis Response

Medical professions told Amnesty international that most of these children were battling mental health issues including post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression. They added that these children displayed behavioural symptoms of aggression, flashbacks, nightmares, withdrawal from social situations, and severe mood swings. 

The Yezidi, a closed ethno-religious minority group, are indigenous to Iraq and Syria. Their population strength would be around 550,000 in their heartland of northwest Iraq before IS invaded the area and destroy their community altogether in 2014. IS fighters tortured Yazidis for being heretics, committed genocide by slaughtering thousands of men, took away women and girls and forced boys to fight for jihad. Yazidi children were even forced to adopt Islam as their religion and were taught Arabic. They could speak only Arabic and were forbidden from speaking their native Kurdish.

Yezidi boys, during their captivity were subjected to most intense propaganda, indoctrination and military training, with an intend to wipe out their former identities, language, and names. Whereas for abducted girls and women life was equally hard. One of the doctors who provided medical care and assistance to these survivors said that that almost every girl she had treated between the ages of nine and 17 had been raped or subjected to other sexual violence.

These children were systematically subjected to the horror of life under IS, and now they’ve been left to pick up the pieces. They must be given the support they desperately need to rebuild their lives as part of the Yezidi community’s future.

Matt Wells, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Crisis Response

Amnesty highlighted IS inhumane treatment of Yezidi and urged international organizations such as the UNHCR to work towards resettlement or humanitarian relocation of these children and women on fast-track basis, with the support of the national authorities and foreign governments.

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