Iraq begins exhuming mass Yazidi grave left by Daesh

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Iraqi Yazidi and Nobel Peace Laureate Nadia Mourad (R) speaks with an elderly Yazidi cleric during the exhumation of a mass-grave of hundreds of Yazidis killed by Daesh militants in the northern Iraqi village of Kojo in Sinjar district on March 15, 2019. (AFP)
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Iraqi Yazidi women attend the exhumation of a mass-grave of hundreds of Yazidis killed by Daesh militants in the northern Iraqi village of Kojo in Sinjar district on March 15, 2019. (AFP)
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An Iraqi Yazidi woman mourns while attending the exhumation of a mass-grave of hundreds of Yazidis killed by Daesh militants in the northern Iraqi village of Kojo in Sinjar district on March 15, 2019. (AFP)
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Iraqi Yazidis attend the exhumation of a mass-grave of hundreds of Yazidis killed by Daesh militants in the northern Iraqi village of Kojo in Sinjar district on March 15, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 16 March 2019

Iraq begins exhuming mass Yazidi grave left by Daesh

  • Daesh militants rampaged across Sinjar in 2014, killing Yazidi men and abducting thousands of women and children
  • Many followers of the minority faith are still missing, after women were forced into sexual slavery and boys were indoctrinated in extremist ideology

ERBIL: The Iraqi government has started exhuming a mass grave left behind by Daesh in the northwestern Sinjar region in the presence of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad, whose slain relatives are believed to have been buried in the area.
The exhumation, which is being carried out with UN support, began Friday in the village of Kocho. Murad’s official website said it marks the first exhumation of a mass grave containing the remains of Yazidis, a religious minority targeted for extermination by the extremists.
Daesh militants rampaged across Sinjar in 2014, killing Yazidi men and abducting thousands of women and children. Many followers of the minority faith are still missing, after women were forced into sexual slavery and boys were indoctrinated in extremist ideology.
“I pay my condolence to the Yazidis and the whole humanity. There is not a single Yazidi family that didn’t taste the bitterness of this extermination,” said Murad. “They all lost their loved ones, their properties and their dreams, and especially in this village,” she said.
Murad was one of an estimated 3,000 Yazidi women and girls who were kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery. She was raped, beaten and tortured before she managed to escape after three months in captivity.
Over 70 mass graves have been discovered in Sinjar since it was liberated from Daesh in November 2015.
In November, UN investigators said they have verified the location of more than 200 mass grave sites from the time of Daesh rule in northern Iraq, containing the bodies of between 6,000 and 12,000 victims.
Nada Selo, an activist from Kocho, lamented the slow pace of efforts to identify and recover victims.
“Negligence has been going on for four years and until now. The people were hoping during all this time to see their relatives alive. So honestly, this is a huge disappointment for us as Yazidis, and it is a real tragedy,” she said.
A statement issued earlier this week by Murad, global Yazidi NGO Yazda and their joint legal counsel Amal Clooney welcomed the process in Kocho. They expressed hope it would be part of a “comprehensive effort which will result in the exhumation of all Daesh mass graves in Sinjar and beyond, the return of victims’ remains to their families and the investigation of the relevant crimes, leading to the prosecution of the responsible Daesh militants.”
Daesh is on the verge of losing the last area it controls in Syria as US-backed fighters squeeze the extremists in the village of Baghouz near the Iraqi border. Over the past months a number of Yazidi women and children have been freed in eastern Syria.


UN warns of severe aid cuts in Yemen without new funds soon

Updated 22 August 2019

UN warns of severe aid cuts in Yemen without new funds soon

  • Donors have pledged $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis
  • But UN humanitarian chief Lise Grande says less than half the amount has been received so far
UNITED NATIONS: The UN humanitarian chief in Yemen warned Wednesday that unless significant new funding is received in the coming weeks, food rations for 12 million people in the war-torn country will be reduced and at least 2.5 million malnourished children will be cut off from life-saving services.
Lise Grande said the UN was forced to suspend most vaccination campaigns in May, and without new money a “staggering” 22 life-saving programs in Yemen will close in the next two months.
At a UN pledging conference in February, donors pledged $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis, but Grande said that to date, less than half the amount has been received.
“When money doesn’t come, people die,” she said in a statement Wednesday.
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Iran-backed Houthi Shiite rebels who control much of the country’s north. A Saudi-led coalition that includes the United Arab Emirates allied with Yemen’s internationally recognized government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.
The fighting in the Arab world’s poorest country has left thousands of civilians and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical care shortages and pushing the country to the brink of famine.
UN deputy humanitarian chief Ursula Mueller told the Security Council on Tuesday that 12 million Yemenis have been assisted every month, “but much of this is about to stop” because only 34% of the UN’s $4.2 billion appeal for 2019 has been funded.
At this time last year, she said, 65% of the appeal was funded, including generous contributions from Yemen’s neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The UN humanitarian office in New York said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia and the UAE each pledged $750 million to its Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019.
Grande said the UN is grateful to donors who have lived up to their promises, and in half the districts where people were facing famine “conditions have improved to the point where families are no longer at risk of starvation.”
But she said of the 34 major UN humanitarian programs in Yemen, only three are funded for the entire year. Several have been forced to close in recent weeks, Grande said, and many large-scale projects designed to help destitute, hungry families have been unable to start.
Without new funds in the coming weeks, she said, 19 million people will also lose access to health care, including 1 million women who depend on the UN for reproductive health services. In addition, Grande said, clean water programs for 5 million people will have to shut down at the end of October and tens of thousands of displaced families may find themselves homeless.
“Millions of people in Yemen, who through no fault of their own are the victims of this conflict, depend on us to survive,” she said. “All of us are ashamed by the situation. It’s heart-breaking to look a family in the eye and say we have no money to help.”