Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 August 2019

France resettles group of vulnerable Yazidi survivors of ISIS

Over 100 members will get new life and protection in European country

Iraqi Yazidis in the airport of Erbil, Iraq, waiting to board a flight to Toulouse, France. Courtesy of the International Organisation of Migration in Iraq.
Iraqi Yazidis in the airport of Erbil, Iraq, waiting to board a flight to Toulouse, France. Courtesy of the International Organisation of Migration in Iraq.

A group of Yazidi women and children victimised by ISIS in Iraq will resettle in France, the International Organisation of Migration said late on Wednesday.

For several years, Sinjar, home to Iraq’s Yazidi ethno-religious minority, was the site of what the United Nations called an ISIS-led genocidal campaign.

The insurgents, shot, beheaded or burnt alive and enslaved the group’s members, kidnapping thousands of women and children. Many were forced into sexual slavery and remain missing to this day.

A total of 130 Yazidi members arrived on Wednesday night in Toulouse, from the Iraqi city of Erbil, the IOM said in a statement.

“Today we have come to see you off on your new journey to France,” Dominique Mas, the French Consul General in Erbil, told the Yazidi families ahead of their departure.

“In France you will receive protection, security, education, as well as medical and social support,” Mr Mas said.

The Yazidis, a religious sect whose beliefs combine elements of ancient Middle Eastern religions, were regarded by the insurgents as “devil worshippers”.

The project is part of French President Emmanuel Macron’s combined initiative with 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad, herself a member of the Yazidi sect who was kidnapped by ISIS for three months and now advocates for vulnerable Yazidi women worldwide.

A group of 16 Yazidi women and their children arrived in December with the help of IOM.

“We are grateful for the French government’s support to this vulnerable group of Yazidis, some of whom have gone through a terrible ordeal,” said Gerard Waite, IOM Iraq’s chief of mission. “IOM Iraq continues to assist all displaced Iraqi citizens, including Yazidis, both in areas of displacement as well as in their hometowns, to facilitate their sustainable reintegration.

“The IOM team in Iraq arranged cultural orientation sessions in Erbil, Iraq, for the families and have facilitated their travel.”

Although Iraq declared victory over the militants in 2017, many Yazidi still live in camps and are afraid to return home.

Iraqi President Barham Salih sent a draft bill to parliament last month that would classify atrocities committed by ISIS against Yazidi women as “genocide”.

Baghdad has yet to declare their crimes as “genocide” despite the UN’s recognition.

Last month, the spiritual council for Iraq’s Yazidi community said it will not embrace the children of women and girls raped by ISIS men, days after saying it would accept “all survivors.”

The religious minority has historically rejected mixed marriages and children fathered by outsiders.

Women who escaped ISIS with children born of their captors have had to choose between abandoning their children or staying in exile in displacement camps in Syria and Iraq.

Updated: May 24, 2019 02:00 PM

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