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UN emphasizes Importance of a Survivor-Centred Approach towards Victims of ISIL Abuses

Baghdad/Erbil, Iraq – A tailored and robust response to the needs of survivors of sexual violence in conflict perpetrated by ISIL (Da’esh) is needed to assist victims’ recovery and contribute to lasting peace in post-conflict Iraq, the United Nations in Iraq said, marking the annual International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The day was observed by the United Nations, together with the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government, in events in Erbil and Baghdad on 19 and 26 June, respectively, under the theme “The Importance of a Survivor-Centred Approach”.

Speaking in the capital Baghdad on behalf of the United Nations family in Iraq, the Deputy Special Representative for Iraq of the United Nations Secretary-General, Ms. Alice Walpole, urged the Iraqi government to implement a survivor-centred approach to the prevention and response to conflict-related sexual violence, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2467 on women, peace and security, adopted on 23 April 2019.

“For more than three years during the conflict with the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Da’esh), women and girls were subjected to the most atrocious forms of violence, including sexual violence, as a weapon of war. They suffered horrific and prolonged sexual abuse. They were imprisoned, beaten, sold, burnt, raped and tortured,” said Ms. Walpole.

“It is widely agreed that a holistic approach is the best way to start rebuilding the resilience of survivors, minimising the risk of re-traumatisation, social exclusion and stigma. A survivor-centred approach ensures that the safety and welfare of survivors remain paramount,” she added, underlining that the United Nations in Iraq will continue to support the government in protecting the rights of gender-based violence survivors, including survivors of sexual violence in conflict, as part of its commitment to advancing human rights and facilitating the achievement of sustainable peace and stability in Iraq.

Ms. Walpole welcomed the current efforts of the Government of Iraq in drafting legislation in support of Yezidi survivors of Da’esh, including female survivors of sexual violence. She called for public recognition, too, of survivors from other communities, and for male survivors of conflict-related sexual violence, “who endure a particular burden of shame and stigma”.

Speaking in Erbil, Kurdistan Region, UNFPA Deputy Representative Mr. Himyar Abdulmoghni stressed the need for action: “Despite the end of the war and the recapture of territories in Iraq, these survivors, in the majority, suffer from depression, crippling anxiety, or panic attacks: some even consider self-harm or suicide. UNFPA, with donors and partners, will continue to work towards addressing the needs of survivors in post-conflict Iraq and raising awareness on the need for a survivor-centred approach that empowers and amplifies the voices of survivors.”

The United Nations Iraq – UNAMI, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, IOM, UNDP, UN Women, and OHCHR - stands ready to provide the necessary support to ensure a comprehensive implementation of resolution 2467, including medical and psychosocial assistance; sexual and reproductive health care; educational, economic, and livelihood support; justice for survivors and their children; and the end of impunity for perpetrators.


For more information, please contact: Samir Ghattas, UNAMI,, +964 790 193 1281,

Salwa Moussa, UNFPA Iraq,, +964 751 740 1545