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03/21/2019 Iraq (International Christian Concern) – A United Nations team approved in 2017 to investigate the genocide perpetrated by ISIS has finally begun exhuming mass graves. On March 16th, the UN partnered with Iraqi authorities to open a mass grave in Sinjar.

This area was previously home to Yazidis, a religious minority group. Both Yazidis and Christians were singled out by ISIS, although the Yazidis were more heavily victimized through mass executions and sex trafficking. The fate of most kidnapped Yazidis remains unknown, and it is estimated that at least 3,000 are still missing.

The exhumation of the first ISIS mass grave remains an important step for all religious minorities in Iraq. By understanding the underlying causes of genocide and the methodology by which it was carried out, steps can be taken which would protect Iraq’s religious minorities. The exhumation of mass graves also helps brings closure to a number of families who still have missing loved ones.

ISIS invaded the Nineveh Plains, home to Iraq’s Christians, and Sinjar, home to the Yazidis, in 2014. While the Islamic extremists have since become militarily defeated, challenges remain. The death and destruction they left behind in previously occupied areas has prevented many internally displaced persons from returning home. Community trust was also broken with ISIS’s invasion, and many victims remain fearful that the extremists’ ideology remains in the region although ISIS no longer holds territory.

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