The Hague, 3 August 2021: The International Commission on Missing Persons hosted a day-long event at its headquarters in The Hague today to mark the 7th Anniversary of the Da’esh invasion of Sinjar. The events included a roundtable discussion on the process of locating missing Yazidis and securing their rights, and a commemoration event organized by the Yazidi Legal Network.
On 3 August, Da’esh invaded the Iraqi province of Sinjar, which resulted in the death 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. Speaking at the roundtable, ICMP Director-General Kathryne Bomberger emphasized that: “It is essential to continue with urgency the efforts of Iraqi national authorities, together with ICMP, to account for all those who are still missing in Iraq, including those who went missing as a result of the Yazidi Genocide and to bring those who were responsible to justice.”
Iraqi Ambassador to the Netherlands, Dr. Hisham Al Alawi, stressed that: “As we gather today here at the ICMP Headquarters in The Hague to commemorate the victims and survivors of ISIL’s genocide against the Yazidi community in Iraq in August 2014, we would like to thank the ICMP’s team for their valuable partnership with our Embassy in The Hague and the much needed support that has been provided since 2005 to Iraqi National Authorities to build national capacity and enable them to deal with the huge caseloads and identify the fate of all missing persons. We certainly believe that the international community should allocate more resources towards this important issue because such investments will help to serve the Truth, Justice, Accountability, Peace and Stability.”
The Co-founder and General Director of the Yazidi Legal Network, Hope Rikkelman, said: “Today is a very important day for the Yazidi community. Multiple atrocities were perpetrated against Yazidis, and thousands are still missing, yet the scale of the Genocide is not widely known outside Iraq. In this light we are committed in supporting the investigation and prosecution of violations against the Yazidi, in the Netherlands and elsewhere, as core international crimes.”
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.
ICMP began working with Iraqi institutions in 2005. It established an office in Baghdad in 2008 and in Erbil in 2010. ICMP is helping Iraq to create a sustainable process to locate all missing persons, regardless of the period of disappearance, the circumstances, or the national/sectarian origin of the missing persons and to secure the rights of all surviving families to truth, justice and reparations. This involves the creation of purpose-specific institutions and legislation that are key to a sustainable process, including a central institution to coordinate the effort and a central database that collects all records of all missing persons. This summer, two principal institutions working on the issue of missing persons in Iraq, the Mass Graves Department of the Martyrs’ Foundation and the Medical Legal Department of the Ministry of Health, began using ICMP’s Integrated Data Management System (iDMS) to process information on missing persons.
ICMP’s Iraq Program is supported by Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States.
ICMP is a treaty-based international 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.