The Hague, 11 December 2021 – On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) brought together Yazidi families of the missing to discuss the issue of missing persons from Da’esh crimes, and to commemorate those who disappeared, with a memorial concert and photography exhibition.
Da’esh’s invasion of the Iraqi province of Sinjar in 2014 resulted in the deaths of more than 5,000 men and the abduction of 7,000 people, mainly women and children. A significant number of those who were abducted are still missing in Iraq and Syria.
At the panel discussion held in The Hague, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger stressed that, “Successful efforts to account for those who are missing depend on the proactive participation of families and of civil society as a whole.” She said it was necessary for government agencies “to work closely with families in order to implement a missing persons process that is based on the rule of law and that utilizes technology in an optimal way,” and she added that ICMP will continue to help the stakeholders in this process to do this.
The co-founder of the Farida Global Organization, Sanna Alneamat, said “the meaningful participation of the families in determining the fate of their missing loved ones is the first step towards securing their rights.”
Other participants in the panel discussion were the Executive Director of Nadia’s Initiative, Abid Shamdeen, the Director of the Institute for Transcultural Health Science at Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University, Jan Ilhan Kizilhan, and the co-Founder and General Director of the Yazidi Legal Network, Hope Rikkelman. The discussion, which focused on ways of bringing together the different stakeholders in the missing persons process in order to make it more effective, was moderated by ICMP Program Coordinator, Goran Batic.
An event that commemorated missing persons through music and poetry was held after the panel discussion. This was followed by the inauguration of a photography exhibition. Titled “The Women Who Beat ISIS”, the exhibition was organized by the Farida Global Organization with the support of ICMP. It features the testimony and portraits of Yazidi survivors and families of the missing.
ICMP is helping the authorities in Iraq to address the issue of missing persons in Sinjar and throughout the country. Since 2016 ICMP has provided operational support to Iraqi experts in addressing Da’esh crimes, by safeguarding and excavating gravesites in Sinjar and mass graves in Tikrit. This has included providing training, guidance, and onsite operational support.
Representatives from the diplomatic community, international organizations and the Government of Iraq attended today’s discussion and commemorative events at ICMP, which were supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.
ICMP is a treaty-based intergovernmental organization with Headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands. Its mandate is to secure the cooperation of governments and others in locating missing persons from conflict, human rights abuses, disasters, organized crime, irregular migration and other causes and to assist them in doing so. It is the only international organization tasked exclusively to work on the issue of missing persons. ICMP has been providing assistance to Iraq since 2005.