|Date: Nov 8, 2018|
|Source: The Daily Star|
|Over 200 mass graves found across Iraq: United Nations|
|BEIRUT: The U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq and the U.N. Human Rights Office said that they have found between 6,000-12,000 bodies in 202 mass grave sites, mainly concentrated in the Iraqi governorates of Ninevah, Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Anbar.|
The exact number of bodies in each of the mass graves is difficult to determine at this stage, the report said. Only 28 mass graves have been excavated so far and 1,258 bodies exhumed.
The Khasfa sinkhole in the south of Mosul is believed to be the largest mass grave found, containing an estimated 4,000 bodies.
The dead are thought to include women, children, the elderly and disabled, as well as members of Iraq’s armed forces and police.
Between June 2014 and December 2017, Daesh (ISIS) seized vast swaths of territory across Iraq, where it led a campaign of widespread violence, torture and persecution.
“[These] acts may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and possible genocide,” the report stated.
The United Nations has said previously that Daesh killed almost 33,000 civilians in Iraq.
Jan Kubis, Special Representative for Iraq of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, was quoted as saying that the mass graves are a testament to the “harrowing human loss, profound suffering and shocking cruelty” faced by Iraqis at the hands of the extremists.
Significant barriers remain for families searching for answers on the whereabouts of loved ones, including reporting to more than five separate state entities in Iraq in the absence of a centralized registry for missing persons.
The mass graves are also thought to be littered with unexploded ordinance. However, the Iraqi government body tasked with excavating the graves says it is underfunded and understaffed.
“Their families have the right to know what happened to their loved ones. Truth, justice and reparations are critical to ensuring a full reckoning for the atrocities committed by ISIL [Daesh],” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said, according to the statement.