International Outreach Event – Iraqi Officials Meet with Yazidi Community Representatives and NGOs

03 December 2020 Iraqi officials from Baghdad met with Yazidi community representative and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in a community outreach event facilitated by the United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da'esh/ISIL (UNITAD).  

The purpose of this event was to allow members of the Yazidi community the opportunity to engage and inform the planning process surrounding the return of the identified Yazidi remains exhumed during mass grave excavations that took place in Kojo during 2019.

Representatives from the Iraqi Government’s National Coordination Committee (NCC), the Medico-Legal Directorate (MLD) and Mass Graves Directorate (MGD) were joined by members of UNITAD, International Committee for Missing Persons (ICMP) and Sheikh Talib Naif Jasim on behalf of Sheikh Naif Jasim Qasim to address concerns and solicit inputs from community members on the return of remains of those identified to Kojo.

The delegation underscored the gravity of the atrocities committed by Da’esh against the Yazidi community, underlining the importance of this engagement to ensure the concerns of those relatives are considered in the planning process.

In answering questions raised by community and NGO representatives, the delegates clarified details for current and future operations concerning excavations. This also included the process of excavations, analysis, DNA matching and return of identified remains to their families. They emphasized the importance of returning the remains of those identified to their loved ones for burial, in accordance with their religious beliefs and cultural practices.

During the event, UNITAD’s clinical psychologist highlighted the importance of providing the necessary emotional assistance as the return of identified remains to Kojo is likely to carry a heavy emotional toll on affected families. She highlighted that an inter-agency coordination response will be planned to ensure adequate psychosocial support will be available on-site to families.

The delegation underlined the effectiveness of community engagement, indicating that proper coordination and communication will continue concerning upcoming events.