The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council (A/69/926–S/2015/409) issued on 5 June 2015.

The deadliest year in Iraq since 2007 was 2014. The United Nations received reports of systematic and widespread violations of international law, including executions and targeted killings, abductions, sexual violence and forced recruitment of children in the large swaths of territory in the country controlled by ISIL and associated armed groups. Beginning in June, an international coalition led by the United States of America conducted airstrikes on ISIL positions in support of the Government. Fighting between the Iraqi Security Forces, including its associated militias and Peshmerga forces, and ISIL and its associated armed groups, included the indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas by all parties, resulting in a sharp increase in the killing and maiming of children. Notwithstanding significant underreporting, 880 incidents of grave violations against children were reported, of which 711 were verified, marking a significant increase compared to 2013.

The United Nations verified the recruitment of at least 67 boys by ISIL in nine incidents. Children reportedly continued to patrol alongside adults and to man checkpoints in Ninewa, Salah al-Din, and Diyala governorates. On 5 September, in Salah al-Din, ISIL forcibly recruited 40 boys during Friday prayers. An unknown number of children were recruited by the pro-Government Popular Mobilization Forces in all conflict areas, as well as in Baghdad and Basra. Children wearing military uniforms and carrying weapons were spotted daily alongside those groups. For example, the United Nations witnessed children in the Hurriya area of Baghdad patrolling with militia convoys in July. Boys as young as 10 years old were recruited and used by self-defence groups supporting Iraqi security forces in the town of Amerli, Salah al-Din. Children, including girls, were reportedly associated with Yezidi self-defence groups fighting alongside Kurdish Peshmerga and Turkmen-based self-defence groups in Ninewa and Kirkuk, and with Sunni tribalbased militias supporting ISF in Ramadi. The lack of clear recruitment procedures, including age verification and disciplinary measures by Iraqi authorities remain s a cause of grave concern. It is of concern that the draft National Guard law that was presented to the Council of Representatives in early March includes exceptions related to the age of recruitment, which would allow children associated with the pro-Government militias to join the National Guard.

As at December, at least 391 children, including 16 girls, held in detention facilities, were indicted or convicted of terrorism-related charges for their alleged association with armed groups under the Anti-Terrorism Act (2005). At least eight children, including two girls, were detained by Kurdistan Regional Government authorities under the Anti-Terrorism Law 3 (2006). Detention periods ranged from two months to more than three years.

The United Nations recorded the killing of 679 children (121 girls, 304 boys, 254 of unknown gender) and injury to 505 others (111 girls, 282 boys, 112 of unknown gender) in 498 incidents (of which 356 could be verified), representing the highest number of documented child casualties since the establishment of the monitoring and reporting mechanism in 2008. At least 87 children were killed and 211 injured in improvised explosive device and suicide attacks. On 2 September in Salah al-Din, 16 children (5 girls, 11 boys), between 8 and 16 years of age, were killed and 8 children (3 boys, 5 girls) were injured in an Iraqi security forces airstrike targeting ISIL. On 17 June, in Ba’qouba district, Diyala, the Shi’ite militia Al Asa’ib Ahl Al-Haq raided Al-Mafraq police station, killing 52 detainees, including 4 boys. On 22 August, in Sa’diya district, Diyala, 16 boys, as young as 8 years of age, were killed by armed elements, allegedly from the Popular Mobilization Forces, during Friday prayers in the Musaba Bin Umeir mosque. In June, the advance of ISIL increased constraints on the delivery of humanitarian assistance, often with devastating effects on children. For example, sources indicated that, in August, at least 45 Yezidi children besieged on Sinjar Mountain by ISIL died from shortages of food and water.

A total of 67 attacks on schools and protected personnel and 51 attacks on hospitals and protected personnel were reported, of which 84 were verified, resulting in the killing of 56 children and injury of 42. Twenty-eight schools were the targets of improvised explosive devices, including when they were being used as polling stations during parliamentary elections in April. In addition, 10 incidents of attacks or threats of attacks on teachers by ISIL were reported. Another 23 schools in Anbar, Ninewa, Salah al-Din and Diyala were affected by military use by ISF and ISIL and by the fighting between the two sides and supporting militias. Three schools were militarily used by ISIL in the Anbarand Diyala governorates, two by ISF in Salah al-Din and one by Peshmerga forces in Mosul. For example, on 11 November, in Beiji, Salah al-Din, the vacated Industrial High School was demolished by improvised explosive devices allegedly planted by ISIL since it had been previously used as a military base by the Iraqi security forces.

Al-Fallujah General Hospital in Anbar governorate alone was subjected to shelling in 17 separate attacks. In four incidents, hospitals were targeted by improvised explosive devices. In the Ninewa and Kirkuk governorates, at least two doctors were targeted by ISIL for refusing to treat injured fighters. For example, on 3 March, in Kirkuk, an improvised explosive device targeted the home of a physician previously threatened by ISIL, injuring his two children and 13 other civilians. At least seven hospitals in Salah al-Din, Ninewa, and Kirkuk were used by ISIL and pro-Government militias to treat their injured.

At least 1,297 children (685 girls, 612 boys) were abducted in 320 incidents, marking the highest number since 2008 and despite significant underreporting. Almost all incidents were perpetrated in August by ISIL against the Yezidi community in Sinjar. Children were taken in groups with their families and detained in schools, prisons and airports. Girls above the age of 12 were separated from their families and either sold in ISIL-controlled areas in Iraq and the Syrian Arab Republic, or retained, including for sexual slavery. The men and boys were allegedly forced to convert to Islam and join ISIL. Multiple sources in the Syrian Arab Republic reported in December that Yezidi girls had been moved to Raqqa to be sold as sex slaves. The number of Yezidi children abducted is indicative of targeting by ISIL of minority communities, with Turkmen, Shabak and Christian children also reportedly abducted in large numbers. Lack of access to conflict affected areas or the fear of families in reporting abductions of children seriously impeded the documentation of cases.

United Nations interactions with national and local authorities on child protection continued despite the deterioration in the security situation and political instability. However, it remains a serious source of concern that the Government of Iraq is not responding to the disproportionate effect of armed conflict on children. Urgent measures are required in relation to the detention of children under terrorism charges, legislative reform, including the criminalization of the recruitment and use of children, the association of children with the Popular Mobilization Forces, as well as the implementation of policies and programmes for the rehabilitation of children affected by conflict. The United Nations stands ready to support the Government and encourages the establishment of a formal interministerial committee to facilitate regular information-sharing on and the response to grave violations against children.

Parties in Iraq

  • Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISI) a,b,c,d

The parties underlined have been in the annexes for at least five years and are therefore considered persistent perpetrators. a)Parties that recruit and use children. b) Parties that kill and maim children. c) Parties that commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children. d) Parties that engage in attacks on schools and/or hospitals.