Sinjar after ISIS: returning to disputed territory

June 15, 2016

The Sinjar district in Iraq witnessed horrific human rights violations with the attack of ISIS on mainly Yezidi communities in August 2014, which according to the UN may amount to genocide. Around 300,000 Sinjar residents (almost the entire population) were forced to flee ISIS’s initial offensive, and massacres there and in nearby villages over the subsequent weeks claimed the lives of around 15,000 Yezidis, according to UN figures.

Although Sinjar was retaken from ISIS in December 2015, a mere 12% have returned to Ninewa, and only 2% to the Sinjar district.

Sinjar has been selected as a case study because of its specific location and the significance of this area for Iraqi and Kurdish politics. Only an inclusive and long-term peacebuilding plan, critically assessing Iraq’s political and security disputes and developed in consultation with all local communities, can break the cycle of violence and contribute to sustainable peace and stability in Iraq. Stabilization of territories that have been affected by ISIS, particularly in the territories that are disputed between the federal government of Iraq (GoI) and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), is potentially one of the most complex issues facing Iraq and its Kurdistan Region today.

Risk of renewed conflict
What are preconditions for displaced communities to return to disputed territories? Which opportunities are there for peace building in areas affected by ISIS? The broader aim of this study is to improve the long-term response to the Iraq crisis and ensure the rights of civilians by influencing relevant decision-makers to, firstly, prioritise and exhaust all means to address underlying grievances of the conflict in Iraq and, secondly, fully support an effective and appropriately designed approach to stabilisation that is conflict-sensitive and recognises the risk of renewed conflict post-ISIS.

Download the report Sinjar after ISIS.

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