Posted on August 17, 2016
DOHUK, Iraq’s Kurdistan region,— Yazidi refugees in Duhok in Iraq’s Kurdistan region have given birth to more than 15,000 children since they escaped Islamic State (IS) assault on their communities in August 2014, official medical records show from Duhok province where the bulk of Yazidi refugees have taken shelter.
Health ministry officials in the province told Rudaw the majority of the newborns had been delivered in hospitals in Duhok but some were given birth to in tents and refugees camps.
“We have registered 21,243 newborns by the refugee families of whom over 15,000 have Yazidi parents,” said Hamza Raziki from the provincial health office.
Nearly 650,000 displaced people from Iraq have taken refuge in Duhok in addition to around 150,000 refugees from neighbouring Syria.
The province is currently preparing to receive another wave of refugees from Mosul after the looming operation to retake the IS-held city.
The new refugees will be placed in five new camps outside the city near Nineveh province but will be administrated by Duhok provincial authorities, Kurdish officials have said.
“Six people from our extended family were captured by the IS, three are still missing, but since then four children have been born within our family,” said Maria, 40, a Yazidi mother of six. “I feel so happy for my youngest child who was born here in the camp,” she said. “It feels as if I’ve become a mother for the first time,” she added.
Over 2,700 children have lost one or both parents while 600 children and the elderly have died when escaping to the Mount Sinjar after the initial attack on Sinjar [Shingal] and the surrounding Yazidi villages on August 3, 2014.
Islamic State group has captured most parts of Sinjar district, west of Mosul on August 3, 2014 which led thousands of Kurdish families to flee to Mount Sinjar, where they were trapped in it and suffered from significant lack of water and food, killing and abduction of thousands of Yazidis as well as rape and captivity of thousands of women.
Official government reports say nearly 6,000 Yazidi men, women and children were abducted in the first days of IS attack on Sinjar, some 2,000 have managed to escape or been smuggled out of Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate, activists say. The Yazidi women are forced into sex slavery and are subjected to systematic rape.
Many of the female prisoners were transferred to Syria where they were treated as war trophies, while the majority of the men were executed, eyewitnesses have told Human Rights’ Watch.
In July a special UN commission established that the violations committed by the IS militants against the Yazidi minority in Iraq constitute genocide.
Earlier this month General Directorate of Health in Duhok province stated that the number of births by women in the IDP camps is over 18,000 and the directorate provides pregnancy care services to the displaced women in 18 camps in the province.