Searching for Sabir
When ISIS came to Sinjar on August 3rd 2014, thousands of Yazidis were captured or killed. Children who were too young to be trained as fighters or used as sex slaves were taken to Tal Afar and sold to local families. As the areas were liberated some of the children ended up in camps or state homes and orphanages where no one knows who they are. Over one thousand children are still missing and we are hoping the Iraqi Government will support this initiative by authorising a search of the camps and orphanages throughout the region.
Sabir was 15 days old when he and his family were kidnapped by ISIS. They were taken to Tal Afar where they remained in captivity until the following year. As the Peshmerga began to close in some of the militants escaped to Syria, taking some of the prisoners with them. Hundreds of men were executed and buried in mass graves which have recently been discovered near Tal Afar. Children who were too young to be used as sex slaves or trained as fighters were sold to local families who fled to Mosul and Hawija.
On June 30th 2017, a group of Yazidi and Shia children were found by Iraqi forces at a clinic in Mosul where they were being used as human shields. They were taken to the Centre for Unaccompanied Children in Hamam al Halil where their images were posted online but by the time his family came to take him, Sabir was missing again.
The majority of children still missing are Yazidis but there are also children from the Christian and Shia community and other minority groups. Some have been given new identities so they can only be found through DNA testing. Others were abandoned in state homes where no one knows who they are. We have a team of dedicated individuals searching for the missing children but there needs to be a concerted effort by the Iraqi Government and the International Community in order to find these children before it's too late.
As Iraqi forces push further into Mosul's old city, hundreds of civilians are being released from so-called Islamic State control.
Reporting by Nafiseh Kohnavard
30 June 2017