Iraqis have sounded the alarm over the fate of small children kidnapped by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, saying they were either used as “human shields” or victims for “human trafficking.”
Steven Nabil, a popular Iraqi activist on Facebook, helped an Iraqi Christian woman disseminate her plea via a video for “good Iraqis” to bring back her three-year-old daughter Christina Abada.
In the video, which cannot be independently verified by Al Arabiya News, the woman said Christina was snatched on Aug. 22 by “a Muslim young man, speaking Arabic” from the family car and was handed to “an old man who had a beard.”
“I call on good Iraqis to bring back my daughter…As soon as possible,” she pleads.
Nabil illuminated more on the story when he said Christina was “kidnapped by ISIS while her family was forced to leave Qaraqosh, Hamadaniya district, also known as Baghdaida. She [Christina] is the youngest of her parents and her father is disabled,” he told Al Arabiya News.
Qaraqosh is about 32 kilometers southeast of the city of Mosul. Mosul, which is Iraq’s second largest city, was seized by ISIS in June.
The activist said that there is “unconfirmed number of children used either as human traffic or other dark purposes.”
“I demand Arab League, Arab states, and children and Islamic human rights groups to interfere and secure the release of Christina, other children and females from various ethnic and religious backgrounds of Iraq including Yazidi women to be released from ISIS,” he said.
He warned: “The Arab world and international community must play part in releasing these children because their silence almost taking part of the crime.”
Last week, Leila Zerrougui, the secretary-general's special representative for children and armed conflict, said up to 700 children have been killed or maimed in Iraq since the beginning of the year, some of them used as suicide bombers by ISIS.
She said the ISIS has ordered boys as young as 13 years old to carry weapons, guard strategic locations or arrest civilians, and has used other children as suicide bombers.
In an additional case, another Iraqi citizen expressed concern about the fate of his kidnapped 4-year-old niece, saying she is being used by ISIS as a human shield.
Mirze Ezdin, an Iraqi lawyer, told The Sunday Times he was terrified for the future of his niece Rosalinda, 4, who is among an estimated 3,000 children and women believed to be held hostage as “human shields” in the ISIS-controlled border town of Tal’Afar.
The uncle also fears for his other 45 relatives who were also snatched by the militant group.
Last week, Ezdin’s family told The Sunday Times of the horrors inflicted on their children and wives. The family said their relatives lived under 24-hour house arrest in a town transformed into an open prison.
The family also described to the daily the terror of rape, of concerns that young girls were being sold into sex slavery, of little boys being taught to kill and of babies dying from malnutrition.
“We just want to die because our women and children are being controlled by ISIS. If we had good weapons we would go to fight them,” Ezdin, who said he believed the children were being used as human shields in the town, told the newspaper.
The precise numbers of hostages claimed by eyewitnesses are hard to verify, the daily said, adding however that they were supported by an August Amnesty International report that said “hundreds, possibly thousands, of women and children are currently held in and around Tal’Afar.”
The daily quoted Donatella Rovera, Amnesty’s senior crisis response adviser, as saying that many of the victims, who are from the Iraqi Yazidi minority, were taken out of revenge when their communities tried to resist the ISIS invasion of Sinjar.