The United Nations in its recent report says an estimated 3,500 people, mainly women and children, are believed to be held as slaves in Iraq by Islamic State militants. The jihadi group which controls vast swaths of neighboring Syria has committed widespread abuses that may “in some instances, amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide,” the report said.
“Those being held are predominantly women and children and come primarily from the Yazidi community, but a number are also from other ethnic and religious minority communities,” said the joint report issued in Geneva. The militant group carries out executions by shooting, beheading, bulldozing, burning alive and throwing people off the top of buildings.
The U.N. had information about the murder of child soldiers and had verified information suggesting between 800 and 900 children in Mosul had been abducted for military and religious training, says the report. Many of these kids were murdered when they tried to flee from the frontlines of the Anbar province.
“Even the obscene casualty figures fail to accurately reflect exactly how terribly civilians are suffering in Iraq. The figures capture those who were killed or maimed by overt violence, but countless others have died from the lack of access to basic food, water or medical care,” U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said. The report laid bare the “horror” that Iraqi refugees were attempting to escape when they fled to Europe and other regions.
Nearly 19,000 civilians were killed in war-torn Iraq with a staggering total of over 55,000 casualties since 2014. At least 18,802 civilians have been killed and another 36,245 wounded between January 1, 2014 and October 31, 2015, stated the report jointly compiled by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The UN has confirmed reports of unlawful killings and abductions by the Iraqi Security Forces and associated forces of the government, including militia and tribal forces (Shia, Sunni and others), popular mobilization units, and Peshmerga (pro-government Kurdish forces). The devastating civil war in Iraq that began in 2014 has internally displaced at least 3.2 million.