At the event on missing persons, Farida Khalaf, President of Farida Global Organization, stated that
“our bodies no longer possess blood,”
as numerous blood samples had been provided to various authorities for the identification of loved ones exhumed from mass graves. The event was organized by International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) in collaboration with Farida e.V.
The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN Human Rights Office have identified approximately 202 mass graves in former ISIS-controlled areas in Iraq, specifically in the governorates of Ninewa, Kirkuk, Salah al-Din, and Anbar in the northern and western regions of the country, which contain the remains of thousands of victims. Iraqi authorities estimate that between 250,000 and 1 million persons are missing in the country, making it one of the countries with the highest number of missing people globally. The U.N. Committee on Enforced Disappearances has urged Iraq to locate victims and hold the perpetrators accountable.
During the accounting for missing persons event organized by ICMP and Farida Global in The Hague, Netherlands, representatives of Iraqi authorities, namely the Martyrs’ Foundation (Mass Grave Directorate) and the Ministry of Health (Medico-Legal Directorate), reported the discovery of 89 mass graves in the Sinjar region following the Genocide against Yazidis in Iraq in 2014. Local NGOs on the ground recently discovered another mass grave, while families and CSOs continue to identify more mass graves in Sinjar. According to the authorities’ figures shared during the event, families from Sinjar have reported 1,700 missing persons. The number of missing persons is expected to be much higher, as not all cases have been reported to the Directorate of Mass Graves (DoMG).
Legal representative from Mass Graves Directorate stated in the event,
“To date, 650 remains have been exhumed from the mass graves, and 163 of them have been identified through DNA matching and returned to their families.”
The Mass Graves Directorate, and other organizations will continue to work to exhume the remaining mass graves, but they face significant challenges, such as not having enough blood samples from families due to entire families being killed during the Genocide.
Given the magnitude of the issue, we urge the Iraqi government, institutional donors, and the international community to redouble their efforts to accelerate the exhumation of the remaining mass graves and to establish teams to search for and rescue missing persons.