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Project ID:00107415Description:UNA053 UNICEF children needs
UN Action Agst Sexual Violence
Start Date *: 31 Oct 2017
UN Action Against Sexual Viole
End Date*: 31 Dec 2019
Country: United Nations Project Status: Financially Closed
  Participating Organization:   UNICEF - United Nations Children's Fund

The military operation to retake the city of Mosul began on 17 October 2016.  In the months prior to that, the humanitarian situation continued to worsen due to the escalation of fighting along the Tigris and Euphrates River corridors as the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) were preparing the battlefield. Starting mid-2016, the Government of Iraq (GoI) intensified its military operations to retake ISIL controlled areas in Fallujah in Anbar Governorate and into Salah al Din and Ninewa Governorates.  Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced into Anbar, Baghdad, Salah al Din, Kirkuk, Erbil, and Ninewa. Since the operations to retake Mosul, an estimated 330,000 have been displaced. Additional people are anticipated to be displaced, possibly as many as 350,000 as the Military Operations continue inside West Mosul.  By mid-2017, as the Mosul crisis evolves, as many as 12-13 million people in Iraq may require some form of humanitarian assistance.  

GBV, is widespread and continues to be exacerbated as vulnerabilities of women and girls increase due to one of the largest crises emanating from the conflict to retake areas from ISIL control.  Sexual violence including sexual slavery and multiple rapes have been used by ISIL as a tactic of terror and conflict, systematically and primarily targeting women and girls of specific ethnic and religious minority groups in Iraq and Syria. Furthermore, those who have lived in areas under ISIL control have been at extreme risk of rights violations, abductions,  rape, torture and abuse and restrictions to fundamental freedoms 

These risks of violence heightens the likelihood that women and girls will be forced to engage in negative coping strategies like survival sex or early and forced marriage to merely survive. Women, especially widows, adolescent girls and female-headed households, are particularly vulnerable to GBV. Under-reporting of GBV due to fear, shame, stigma, discrimination against survivors (particularly if perpetrated by ISIL fighters), isolation imposed by survivors or their families or other restrictions on movement; threats, honour killing and fear of retaliation,  impunity for perpetrators, and gaps in available services, is likely to increase.  

Act No. 26 of 2006 on nationality grants Iraqi women the right to transmit their nationality to their children (Article 3). Further Article 4 of the Act establishes that Iraqi women may transmit their nationality to their children born outside of the State party’s territory only if the father is unknown or stateless and subject to the discretion of the Minister of Interior. While the aforementioned, legal provisions are available to protect children’s legal status, children born to women who have survived sexual violence have compounded vulnerability due to additional stigma due to their perceived affiliation with ISIL or foreign citizenship of a fighter father.  These children are perceived as children born of “an enemy”. Many are not registered or have only been registered by ISIL with documents that are not recognized by Iraqi authorities. Lack of proper documentation results in difficulty accessing basic services, such as medical services, education, and social support.  Other children are abandoned and placed in orphanages.  Processes for families to address lack of documentation are complex, lengthy, involve judicial authorities, and vary based on location and situation.  Indeed, there are a number of scenarios that may be presented including children born of ISIL or other conflict related rape, including children born from forced marriages, children born to ISIL affiliated families and children born in ISIL held territory without registered marriage or birth.   

Stigma associated with unknown, foreign, or ISIL parentage, is likely to discourage help seeking.  This can result in a lack of social support for such children which creates an additional burden on their mothers and increases vulnerability to exploitation and abuse.  

In addition to the demonstrable need to address the acute vulnerability of Iraqi women survivors of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) and children born from these terrible circumstances, the United Nations has an imperative to act due to the commitments made on the 23 September 2016 Joint Communique of the Republic of Iraq and the United Nations on Prevention and Response to Conflict-Related Sexual Violence signed by the UN (Zainab Hawa Bangura, SRSG on Sexual Violence in Conflict) and the Republic of Iraq.  Specifically, in commitment (3), the UN agreed to cooperate with the Republic of Iraq to “[ensure] the provision of services, livelihood support, and reparations for survivors and children born of rape.”

 This project would establish dedicated human resource capacity to: 

  1. a. Assess the scope of the problem; 

  1. b. Review and provide analysis of the legal framework; 

  1. c. Map existing responses in different locations, including judicial and local authorities’ handling of cases and support provided by NGOs/CSOs and treatment of children in similar situations in Iraq; 

  1. d. Engage relevant Ministries, governmental authorities (MoLSA, MoI, MoJ, MoH, registration authorities, etc.), tribal, religious leaders, community, and women leaders, and any task forces focused on implementation of the joint communique 

  1. e. Identify gaps and areas of advocacy or intervention to follow up.  

  1. f. Develop coordinated response strategy to be taken forward by the established taskforce and relevant actors 

  1. g. Provide leadership for coordination (working group or task force) of UN agencies and national and international NGOs responding to survivors of CRSV and their children to jointly address this complex issue;  

This capacity would directly respond to commitment (3) of the Joint Communique to “[ensure] the provision of services, livelihood support, and reparations for survivors and children born of rape” as well as commitment (1) to “[support] legislative and policy reform for strengthen protection from and service response for sexual violence crimes and to facilitate documentation, return and reintegration of IDPs and refugees into communities.” 

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