A Childhood of Fear: The impact of genocide on Yazidi children in Sinjar

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Save the Children UK

Yazidi children whose lives were shattered by ISIS attacks in northern Iraq eight years ago must not be forgotten by the international community, which must help fulfil their right to an education and hopes for a better future, Save the Children said today.

About 400,000 Yazidis – an ethnic and religious minority group – were captured, killed, or forced to flee from their ancestral homeland in Sinjar in August 2014 after ISIS crossed the border from Syria. The United Nations has recognised the treatment of the Yazidi as genocide[1].

Up to 3,000 women and young girls were abducted, experienced rape and other forms of sexual violence, and many remain missing. Young boys were separated from their families and forcibly recruited into ISIS.

Eight years on, many Yazidi children are still displaced from their communities. Many live in unsafe environments where they are surrounded by physical reminders of the violence experienced at the hands of ISIS, including destroyed homes, schools, and hospitals.

To understand the impact of the genocide on young children, Save the Children spoke to 117 children aged between 7 and 17, who were very young or just infants when they lost mothers, fathers, siblings, and extended family in the violence, as well as 33 caregivers.

Children of all ages told Save the Children about their fears and the lack of safety and security in their daily lives. Amongst adolescents, 39 of the 40 involved in the study said they did not feel safe where they live and worried about abductions, sexual violence, recruitment by armed groups, and further family loss or separation among other issues.

[1] The United Nations first concluded that the treatment of the Yazidi people by ISIS constituted genocide in a 2016 report, “They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis,” presented to the Human Rights Council, June 2016.

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