First Published: 2017-10-06

Iraq aid groups point out IS-linked families to authorities
Rights group says 'disturbing' to see aid workers in Iraq ignore 'principles of neutrality', potentially helping authorities to impose 'collective punishment'.
Middle East Online

Many relatives of IS jihadists fled as the group suffered a string of defeats.

BAGHDAD - Aid workers running camps for people who fled fighting in Iraq have helped authorities identify families suspected of links to the Islamic State group, Human Rights Watch said Friday.

"In mid-September, security officials told several international and local organisations... to draw up lists of so-called 'ISIS families' so they can 'keep an eye on them,'" HRW researcher Belkis Wille said, using another name for the group.

Many relatives of IS jihadists fled as the group suffered a string of defeats at the hands of Iraqi forces and an international coalition, most notably the fall of its Iraqi bastion Mosul in July.

Some have sought refuge in camps run by aid groups south of Iraq's second city.

"Several camp management teams told me they have already provided these lists, which include hundreds of families in camps that are housing at least 15,000 families displaced by recent fighting," Wille said.

"It is disturbing enough to see security forces punishing families for the actions of their relatives, but it is particularly troubling to see aid workers helping them violate the rights of these families," she said.

Wille urged humanitarian workers to "insist on the principles of neutrality and independence and avoid complicity in efforts to impose collective punishment on women and children".

Rights group Refugees International also warned this week that Iraqi women and girls "perceived or alleged to be affiliated with ISIS are reportedly being detained and subject to sexual exploitation and abuse" by Iraqi authorities.


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