Children born in Mosul do not have citizenship; Islamic State accused of prisoner massacre

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |  Nov. 18, 2016 at 8:02 AM
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MOSUL, Iraq, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Children born in Mosul in the past two years have not received documents verifying their identity or citizenship under rule by the Islamic State, authorities said.

Children born under Islamic State rule in Mosul do not have the legal documents needed to prove they are Iraqi citizens.

"We haven't been able to issue any Iraqi documents for these children who were born since August 2014 since it has been difficult to establish their parents' origin," the exiled director of Mosul's health office told Rudaw.

Health officials said that, although accurate data is difficult to collect, thousands of children have been born in Mosul under IS rule over the past two years.

One child, Hamza, was born in Mosul's Salam hospital more than a year ago but still does not have proper documentation, like many other children.

"He doesn't have Iraqi identity card nor the citizenship. I don't know. The hospital gave us a piece of paper and said the government will do the rest," his mother said. "He was born in Salam hospital. He has no ID. It is his right to have Iraqi ID. This is his birth certificate."

Hamza's mother fears her son's lack of documentation could limit his future access to healthcare and education.

The Iraqi government has largely postponed issuing Iraqi citizenship to foreigners since 2003 in an attempt to block refugees from neighboring countries becoming citizens which could disturb regional ethnic demographics in disputed areas, such as in the Kurdistan region. Iraq's Constitution says any person who lives in Iraq for eight years can apply for citizenship.

Mosul's medical department is waiting for Iraqi security forces to fully liberate the city from the Islamic State before addressing the issue of undocumented children.

"We will check to see if their papers are authentic. If they are, our specialized committee will decide to take next steps," a medical department official said.

Mosul is considered one of the most important battles in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq, as it is considered the militant Islamist group's last major stronghold in the country.

The ground offensive to take back the city, started Oct. 17 by Iraqi security forces supported by a U.S.-led coalition, has revealed what life has been like under IS rule and some of the atrocities committed by the militant Islamist group.

On Nov. 7, Iraqi security forces said it discovered a mass grave about 18 miles southeast of Mosul filled with the bodies of at least 300 local police officers who officials said were executed by the Islamic State, also known as ISIL, Daesh and ISIS.

Local witnesses said the massacre occurred at the end of October, when the Islamic State killed the policemen who were being held as prisoners.

"This is another piece of evidence of the horrific mass murder by ISIS of former law enforcement officers in and around Mosul," Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement released Wednesday. "ISIS should be held accountable for these crimes against humanity."

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