UNITED NATIONS, New York – Kurdish Yezidi parliamentarian Vian Dakhil has warned that Iraq’s government is still failing to rescue kidnapped sex slaves from Islamic State (ISIS) fighters and has called for the creation of a safe-zone in northern Iraq for protection in the future.
“Because of many problems Iraqi government is facing: wars and IS and other problems, there is not enough time to take care of problem of kidnapped girls,” Dakhil told an audience at the International Peace Institute, a New York-based think tank, on Tuesday.
“The Iraqi government has a strategy but is not executing it as we expected; and we would like the international community to support the Iraqi government and the other forces that they fight those people.”
Yezidis, whose ancient religion has elements of Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam, suffered grievously after last year’s rapid offensive by ISIS, a Sunni Muslim extremist group that controls Sunni-majority areas on either side of the Iraq-Syria border.
Hundreds were killed and thousands captured, enslaved and raped by the militants, who consider Yezidis devil worshippers. There are reports of girls as young as nine being traded in slave auctions for as little as a packet of cigarettes.
Dakhil said some 4,500 women and girls have been kidnapped and enslaved, including a 13-year-old who bled to death after being raped. She called for a safe-zone in northern Iraq, bordering Kurdish areas, where religious minorities are safe.
“As Yezidis we want to have some kind of borders to protect us from dangers in order not to repeat what happened to us. Basically we are Yezidi and Christian, our border is with Syria and those people from ISIS are coming from Syria,” she told Rudaw.
On Wednesday, the UN Security Council will address the suffering of Yezidi sex slaves, IS, the Nigerian extremist group Boko Haram and other issues around sex crimes committed during conflict by 45 militant groups on a UN list.
“This year’s UN report on sexual violence in conflict documents horrendous crimes like this happening in conflicts around the world,” said Zainab Bangura, the UN envoy on Sexual Violence in Conflict, said in a statement that was emailed to Rudaw.
“It chronicles the disturbing trend of sexual violence against adolescent girls, including rape, sexual slavery and forced marriage. It records the use of sexual violence to persecute ethnic and religious minorities and the targeting of people based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation.”
Meanwhile, Haidar al-Abadi made his first visit to Washington as Iraqi Prime Minister on Tuesday for talks in the White House with US President Barack Obama on efforts on defeating IS and bolstering a central government in Baghdad that struggles to assert its authority.
After frustrations with the previous Iraqi government, Obama expressed confidence that al-Abadi is a tough partner in fighting terrorism and forming a more inclusive government. Iraqi security forces and has recovered about a quarter of the territory IS had captured in the country, he said.
“This is a long process and in our discussions Prime Minister Abadi made clear that this success will not occur overnight. But what is clear is that we will be successful,” Obama said, while pledging $200 million in humanitarian aid to help those displaced by IS extremists.