UN: ISIS genocide of Yazidis in Iraq "ongoing"

File photo of displaced Yazidis fleeing violence from forces loyal to ISIS in Sinjar.

Reuters

IRBIL -- The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group is still committing genocide and other crimes against the Yazidi minority in Iraq, a United Nations commission investigating human rights abuses in Syria said on Wednesday.

The commission's statement - released on the second anniversary of the initial ISIS attack on the Sinjar area in Iraq - urged action to prevent further death and suffering.

About 5,000 Yazidi men were killed by IS when the Sunni militant group took control of Iraq's northwest two years ago. Thousands more, mostly women and children, were taken into captivity, according to the U.N.

The commission of inquiry said IS crimes "against the Yazidis, including the crime of genocide, are ongoing." It called for a refocus on the "rescue, protection of, and care for the Yazidi community."

Iraq's Yazidi community - a small and isolated religious minority that combines elements of Islam, Zoroastrianism and Christianity - has been repeatedly persecuted by successive governments and invading armies.

"Our community is still suffering after more than two years," said Mirza Danai, founder of the German-Iraqi aid organization Luftbrucke Irak. "We have been neglected and ignored by all the powers in the region."

The IS attack on Sinjar in August of 2014 in part prompted the U.S.-led coalition to begin launching airstrikes against IS in Iraq and initiate a broader fight against the militant group in Iraq and Syria.

IS has since lost a third of the territory the group once held in Iraq and Syria, according to the coalition.

In March, the Obama administration formally concluded IS is committing genocide against Yazidis as well as other minority groups, including Christians and Shiite Muslims.

The U.N. panel's statement on Wednesday said that more than 3,200 women and children from the minority continue to be held by IS, and are "subjected to almost-unimaginable violence," including sexual enslavement of girls while young Yazidi boys are forced to fight for IS.