Iraq: Humanitarian Bulletin, April 2021

Situation Report
Originally published
View original



  • UN Agencies Support Yazidis
  • 2020 HRP Gap Analysis
  • UNFPA Receives CERF Grant
  • IHF Field Monitoring Visit
  • IDP Participation in Elections

UN Agencies Announce Projects to Support Yazidis

In April 2021, two UN agencies in Iraq announced new projects to assist survivors of the Yazidi genocide. The Yazidis are a religious minority whose beliefs and practices span thousands of years, the majority of whom have historically lived in the Sinjar region of northern Iraq, near the Syrian border. On 3 August 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)—who considered the Yazidis to be heretics—launched a sustained attack on the Sinjar region as part of their larger campaign to capture territory in Iraq and impose their extremist ideology. Reports soon emerged of atrocities being committed against the Yazidis: men were tortured, killed or forced to convert to Islam; women and girls were sold at slave markets and held in sexual captivity by ISIL fighters; and young boys were forcibly taken from their families and pushed into service as child soldiers. Thousands died, thousands more remain missing, and hundreds of thousands of Yazidis were displaced, many living in camps in Duhok governorate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Although Iraqi and Coalition forces re-established control over Sinjar in 2017, and military operations against ISIL ended in December of that year, Yazidis have faced innumerable obstacles in trying to rebuild their lives, including widespread destruction of infrastructure.

United Nations agencies and NGOs have been meeting the humanitarian needs of displaced Yazidis living both in and out of camps for several years, but as Iraq continues to transition out of its immediate post-conflict context, more durable solutions to help Yazidis return home are needed.

On 1 April, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Iraq announced a joint project to rebuild homes and promote community memorialization efforts in the village of Kocho, which experienced some of the worst ISIL atrocities. In parallel, on 12 April, UN-Habitat signed an MOU with Iraq’s Ministry of Justice to help Yazidis reclaim their housing, land and property (HLP) rights in Sinjar. Yazidis often face major challenges in proving their ownership or occupancy land rights, due to a legacy of discriminatory policies or the fact that official documents are missing, damaged, destroyed after the conflict with ISIL. These initiatives follow the enactment of the Yazidi Female Survivors Law by Iraq’s federal Parliament in March 2021, which seeks to establish a framework for redress and reparations to survivors of conflict-related sexual violence which can be used to address the legacy of ISIL crimes against Yazidis and other minority groups.

These efforts will be implemented in tandem with the ongoing work of the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD), which is mandated to support domestic efforts to hold ISIL accountable by collecting, preserving and storing evidence in Iraq of acts that might amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed in Iraq.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit