FYF Monthly Newsletter - January 2021
Yezidi IDP camp, IraqDear friends,
We at the Free Yezidi Foundation wish you a Happy New Year and a healthy 2021. This year has brought some challenging developments, but also some exciting new projects and opportunities.
This month, we have unfortunately witnessed a spike in Yezidi suicides and suicide attempts. In addition, Iraq's federal government has closed camps in federal Iraq and may seek to close camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where most Yezidi IDPs currently reside. FYF issued a statement on these two developments:
"Suicide rates have increased among Yezidi IDP camp residents...it appears that the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated an already acute community-wide trauma. There is need for targeted, smart efforts to provide trauma treatment to Yezidis, with a focus on supporting Yezidi-led organizations."
"Forced closures of IDP camps and premature return to Sinjar right now is unsafe and unsustainable for most Yezidis, which is why they choose to remain in the camps...If and when IDPs voluntary choose to return, they should be strongly supported. But IDP camps should not be closed in an effort to force the hand of an endangered, persecuted minority community. Instead, Yezidis should have the right to remain in the relative safety of IDP camps if they choose, while government bodies and international and local aid organizations should deploy wide-scale trauma treatment to address suicide risks. Traumatized or suicidal civilians will not benefit from being made homeless. While IDP camps should not be the permanent future for Yezidis, they do offer basic protection and housing and should not be forcibly closed until their residents freely choose to leave."
Please find the full statement here: FYF Statement on the Yezidi Suicide Crisis and Threat of Camp Closures.
Visit of Netherlands Foreign Ministry to FYF center, January 2021
The Free Yezidi Foundation is grateful to the Netherlands Foreign Ministry for supporting our education, livelihood, and trauma service provision for Yezidi IDPs. In early January, FYF was pleased to host a visit from Netherlands Embassy - Baghdad and Consulate - Erbil officials. The primary focus of this visit was trauma and MHPSS service provision, especially FYF's Harikara model. FYF continues to urge the Netherlands and other governments to invest in trauma treatment and MHPSS service provision, in coordination with civil society organizations that are active within affected communities and can connect with women, men, and children to provide stabilization and coping techniques.
FYF Justice Project Manager Waheeda Omer discussed the Yezidi situation at a virtual presentation with Techfugees.
Combating GBV and Gender Discrimination
The following is an excerpt describing FYF's USAID-funded program, recently completed, to combat gender discrimination and gender-based violence:
"Iraq is a tribal society. When people face problems they often go to traditional tribal and religious leaders to find solutions. This is particularly challenging for women and girls: 'Women face a lot of stigma if they decide to go to the police or authorities. People might talk about them, and sometimes they might think that the woman committed a crime. Many women choose to stay silent rather than seek solutions to their problems,' said Zozan, a Supervisor with the Free Yezidi Foundation (FYF), a USAID partner. When problems involve violations of women's and girls' rights, leaders tend to use traditional solutions that favor men and may result in harmful outcomes for women, such as underage and forced marriages. In extreme cases, tribal leaders can issue decisions that could even lead to an honor killing." (USAID, 21 January 2021) The full piece can be found at the USAID website by clicking. We are grateful to USAID for generously funding this important project.
FYF Center in Sheikhan, and GBV team outreach to community leaders and community members
This month, the Free Yezidi Foundation has completed an agreement with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to transform its existing Carpet Factory facility into the Free Yezidi Foundation's Enterprise and Training Center. In the coming months, FYF will begin opening new programs in this facility, including a grand opening event, depending on the COVID-19 situation in the community.
FYF envisions a bustling facility where Yezidis from the IDP and host communities can learn, grow, attain skills, identify job opportunities, and strengthen their personal and community-wide economic positions. Much more will be shared in the coming months on this and other targeted initiatives to facilitate economic empowerment in the Yezidi community.
Thank you, friends, for your continued solidarity with the Free Yezidi Foundation and the Yezidi people.
Free Yezidi Foundation
In the News
| Negotiating Peace in Iraq's Disputed Territories: Modifying the Sinjar Agreement
| This article includes the Free Yezidi Foundation's comments on the inclusion of the Yezidi community on decision-making processes related to Sinjar.
USAID | Advocating for Gender Sensitive Negotiation in Northern Iraq
| This article describes a USAID-funded project implemented in Sheikhan by the Free Yezidi Foundation.Rudaw
| 'We Need Help': Suicides Spike at Duhok's Camps for Yazidis
| The increase in suicides and suicide attempts among the Yezidi community is reaching a crisis point; this article includes FYF comments and analysis on trauma treatment and recovery.The Media Line
| Techfugees Data Hub Live Session - Rebuilding Cities in Iraq
| Techfugees hosted FYF in an online session about the experience of Yezidis in Iraq and next steps in rebuilding the community.Kurdistan-24
| Some Yezidi Survivors Still Fear Returning Home to Sinjar
| The Free Yezidi Foundation is quoted in this article regarding the need for support to Yezidi survivors returning from ISIS captivity, including those with children born from rape.