UN conference in Erbil highlights ongoing efforts to document ISIS genocide against Iraqi Christians

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region of Iraq — On 1 September, the United Nations Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) held a conference in Erbil, shedding light on the critical international efforts to investigate and document the heinous crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Islamic State (ISIS). The conference was attended by 30 Iraqi Christian leaders, alongside political figures and representatives from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), as well as several European and American nations.

The conference served as a platform to unveil the chilling findings of UNITAD’s investigation into ISIS’s targeted genocide against Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq. UNITAD Special Adviser Christian Ritscher, while addressing the attendees, described the extent of the genocide as including “The destruction of Christian cultural heritage in Mosul and the Ninawa plains, where ISIL perpetrators targeted churches, monasteries, cemeteries, manuscripts, Christian symbols, and artwork in barbaric attacks, rooted in hate and inhumanity.”

Notably, Kurdish leaders expressed their unwavering commitment to providing a safe haven for Iraq’s Christian population. Safeen Dizayee, Head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Department of Foreign Relations, stated, “Christians are the indigenous people of this land and must continue their lives with dignity and security.”

Dindar Zebari, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Coordinator for International Advocacy, took the opportunity to recount the history of persecution faced by Iraq’s Christian community. He highlighted how, over the years, these resilient individuals have been forced to endure displacement due to acts of terrorism, which included the destruction of churches and residences. This dire situation led to their relocation to more stable regions. Zebari emphasized, “This migration of Christians peaked after the attacks of ISIL (ISIS) in 2014, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Christians and other communities being displaced and seeking refuge in the Kurdistan Region.”

The international Christian community continues to stand in solidarity with its partners on the ground, actively supporting Iraq’s Christian community in their determined efforts to recover from the devastating impact of ISIS’s targeted genocide. These ongoing international efforts underscore the importance of accountability, justice, and humanitarian assistance for those who have suffered unimaginable atrocities.

As the world collectively confronts the dark chapters of ISIS’s history, conferences like the one held in Erbil serve as a stark reminder of the need for unity and resolve in the face of hatred and violence. It is through such international collaborations that we can hope to ensure that the survivors of these atrocities are not only heard but also provided with the support they need to rebuild their lives and communities.