Yezidi Children's Safe Space

by Free Yezidi Foundation
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Yezidi Children's Safe Space
Yezidi Children's Safe Space
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Yezidi Children's Safe Space
Yezidi Children's Safe Space
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Yezidi Children's Safe Space
Yezidi Children's Safe Space
Yezidi Children's Safe Space
Yezidi Children's Safe Space
Yezidi Children's Safe Space
Yezidi Children's Safe Space

DECEMBER 2022 - NEWS AND UPDATES

FYF"s Country Director, Hewan Omer, distributes clothing to Yezidi IDP children

 

Dear friends,

Please read on for the Free Yezidi Foundation's news and updates for the month of December. We would also like to wish you, our friends and allies, a happy holiday season and Happy New Year.

TRAUMA TREATMENT
FYF is currently implementing a project to provide holistic care to members of the Yezidi community in need, including survivors of sexual violence and also those who struggle with the pain of the crimes committed against their family members. For each of the nearly three thousand Yezidis who remain missing and unaccounted for, family members remain in limbo and struggle with the uncertainty of what happened to their loved ones. See below for the story of one FYF beneficiary, whose name and identifying features have been changed. It is important that services are available to all members of the community, as the trauma facing Yezidis is extensive and multi-layered.

FYF COUNTRY DIRECTOR MEETINGS NETHERLANDS CONSUL GENERAL IN ERBIL

The Netherlands Consulate General invited FYF Country Director Hewan Omer to attend a film screening in Erbil. After the screening, FYF had the opportunity to spend some time with the Netherlands officials and discuss current challenges and priorities for the Yezidi population. FYF has a longstanding relationship with the Netherlands Embassy in Iraq and Consulate in the Kurdistan Region.

YEZIDI CEMETERY DESECRATED IN AFRIN
During the Yezidi holiday in December a Yezidi cemetery in Afrin, Syria, was vandalized and several graves desecrated. This in itself is an abhorrent act of intolerance, but it also symbolizes the existential risk that extremists in Syria and Iraq pose to the religious minority communities, especially Yezidis.

Afrin had been a relatively inclusive and peaceful enclave in Syria only a few years ago, with a sizable Yezidi population. However, in January 2018, Turkey began an assault on this previously peaceful area in Northwest Syria. Now that Turkish-backed militias and extremists control Afrin, most of the minority population has fled, and it is now a hotbed for Islamic extremism. Yezidis mourns the destruction of the community in this area and the hatred and intolerance demonstrated by the destruction of the Yezidi cemetery this year to mark the Yezidi holiday.

FYF HOLIDAY SEASON DRIVE
The Free Yezidi Foundation has nearly reached its 2022 holiday fundraising goal! We have now received just over $40,000 in donations from friends and allies, and we are hoping to reach $50,000. If you plan on making an end-of-year charitable donation this holiday season, we ask that you please consider the Free Yezidi Foundation. Donations are 100% tax-deductible.
DID YOU KNOW?
Yezidis celebrate an important holiday in December, Ida Ezi. The holiday includes three days of fasting and then a celebration, usually marked by a meal, or feast. A generous Yezidi individual living in Duhok make a cash donation to FYF to provide materials and food to less fortunate Yezidi families this holiday season. The FYF team distributed goods to 13 families in great need to help make their holiday a little bit brighter. 

Some items distributed by FYF appear in truck above, near FYF's facility, with the IDP camp in the background
Thank you all, as always, for keeping up with our news and work, and for your steadfast support of FYF and the Yezidi community. Happy holidays!

Sincerely,

Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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NOVEMBER 2022 - NEWS AND UPDATES

 

FYF field leadership and project managers participate in team building exercise

 

Dear friends,

Please read on for the Free Yezidi Foundation's news and updates for the month of November.

FYF PURSUIT OF JUSTICE & ACCOUNTABILITY
The Free Yezidi Foundation has been engaged in the pursuit of justice and accountability in the aftermath of the Yezidi Genocide for several years. This painstaking effort is done in a confidential manner, to protect the rights of survivors and the safety of team members. Below are some public-facing meetings and developments that we can share.
This month FYF's lead investigator and justice project co-manager in the field, Ms. Waheeda Omer, received her investigator's certificate from the prestigious Institute for International Criminal Investigators (IICI) in The Hague, Netherlands. The IICI is a renowned global center for international crime investigation training. Waheeda is a young Yezidi professional from Sinjar, and she has been progressively growing within FYF's justice team for years. She successfully applied for a scholarship to attend the IICI training, and is the only Yezidi from Iraq to complete this course (to our knowledge). Waheeda self-funded her trip, and we applaud her dedication and commitment to learning and advancing justice for the Yezidi people.
In late November FYF Executive Director Pari Ibrahim met with US Ambassador Beth Van Schaack. Ambassador Van Schaack heads up the State Department's Global Criminal Justice office, which funds much of FYF's justice work. She has been a great advocate for justice in the aftermath of the Yezidi Genocide.

Separately, Pari met with the head of UNITAD, Special Advisor Christian Ritscher. UNITAD is the UN mechanism developed to pursue justice and accountability for ISIS atrocities. FYF works very closely with UNITAD, meeting regularly at field and headquarters levels. In the meeting, FYF reviewed progress and challenges in the pursuit of justice.
FYF also works closely with IIIM, the mechanism developed by the UN to investigate crimes committed in Syria. Many of the human rights violations committed against Yezidis occurred within Syria. IIIM recently published a detailed gender strategy and implementation plan, created after consultations with a number of civil society actors. As a women-led organization, FYF was pleased to offer views on gender and justice, which were reflected in the strategy. You can view the IIIM strategy document here.

Waheeda Omer completes IICI training, FYF meetings with Ambassador Van Schaack & SASG Ritscher, IIIM gender strategy
FYF CRAFTS ARE TOP SELLERS AT US CONSULATE HOLIDAY BAZAAR

The US Consulate in Erbil holds a holiday bazaar every year for local artisans to market their products. Once again the Free Yezidi Foundation presented hand-crafted Yezidi items at the bazaar, including carpets, blankets, and Chonky stuffed animals. Our team collected $2,732 in sales! FYF uses a small portion of sales to pay for the operational and material expenses at the Enterprise & Training Center, while the lion's share of the proceeds go to the artisans themselves. FYF also participated in an event held by UNHCR in Erbil (pictured below). We are proud to support great Yezidi women artisans!

FYF HOLIDAY SEASON & GIVING TUESDAY DRIVE
As the holiday season approaches, we ask friends and allies to consider supporting FYF. As FYF implements grants from governments and aid agencies, unrestricted support is immensely helpful to civil society organizations such as FYF. It helps to fund the operations, programs, and financial teams that ensure all initiatives and efforts run smoothly and effectively. If you plan on making an end-of-year charitable donation during the holiday season, we ask that you please consider the Free Yezidi Foundation. Donations are tax-deductible in the United States and the Netherlands.
 

DID YOU KNOW?
Did you know FYF began with 300 Euro in Amsterdam in 2014, but now employs more than 100 people? To make sure our work focuses on field implementation, 92% of the team is field-based. To ensure we remain a community-led organization, 88% of the team members are Yezidi. As a women-led NGO, it is important that women are represented at all levels of the organization. Outside of support staff, such as guards, cleaners, and drivers, 82% of FYF's team members are women.
Thank you all, as always, for keeping up with our news and work, and for your steadfast support of FYF and the Yezidi community.

Sincerely,

Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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OCTOBER 2022 - NEWS AND UPDATES

 

Dear friends,

Please read on for the Free Yezidi Foundation's news and updates for the month of October.

FYF ENTERPRISE & TRAINING CENTER UPDATES
The Free Yezidi Foundation continues to expand its Enterprise & Training Center products. In addition to carpets and rugs, Yezidi artisans are producing a line of stuffed animals - Chonky Animals - and other handcrafted items. Unfortunately shipping is currently available only within Iraq. If you or someone you know is in Iraq or the Duhok area, contact us to order your own hand-made item!

All items hand-crafted by Yezidi women artisans; all revenue after operational costs goes directly to the artisans

This month, we are highlighting the stories of some of the Enterprise & Training Center artisans who have chosen to share their stories publicly. You can see the full collection of Voices from the Field here.

Zereen Nasro (top, left) says, "My most cherished memories are from my work here at the Enterprise & Training Center. I have met women from all different parts of Sinjar, and we shared our sorrow and anguish...this has brought us closer together and has made us feel like a family here. I am proud to show everyone that Yezidis have skills, and we can succeed in anything we do, even though our people struggle from discrimination." 

Fluz Faris (top, right) says, "ISIS killed my oldest son. My most cherished memories are of [him]. His memories keep me going. I am doing everything in my power to meet every single need [of my grandson] in order for him to feel his father's presence in his life and for his father's soul to rest in peace. I am grateful for the work FYF does. Every time we sell a large number of crafts, we earn revenues that help us cover our monthly expenses."

Sulav (bottom, left) says, "I am a divorced mother of three daughters. When my eldest daughter graduated, she proudly wore the dress that I hand-made for her ceremony. It reminded me of the days back in Sinjar. Three years ago, I learned how to knit and weave, and this has allowed me to help support my daughters financially. In Iraq, Yezidis are vulnerable, and I would say women are also vulnerable. But we have made some progress now, and I am doing this for myself and for other Yezidi women, including as an example for my daughters."

Mayada Rasho (bottom, right) says, "I am most proud of my ability to fight for my life and my rights. I never had the opportunity to attend school, not even to learn how to read and write. When I was accepted to work on crafts and weaving, I was determined to learn everything I could. After ISIS set our lands on fire and killed our cattle, we had nothing left. I was devastated. This work has helped me and my family financially, but also helped me mentally. I want everyone in the world to know that [Yezidis] are welcoming people and in Yezidi culture we do not cause harm to anyone. I think the situation in Sinjar is very dangerous and not safe enough to return right now. But if we ever do, I will definitely open a market to sell Yezidi-made products."
FYF JOINS DUTCH POLICE TO LAUNCH ISIS TIP-LINE

FYF has been collaborating with the Netherlands prosecutors and police for international crimes regarding justice and accountability in the aftermath of the Yezidi Genocide. This month, the Netherlands government announced a public call for information, through a tip-line, on any crimes committed by Dutch members of ISIS against Yezidis. FYF's Pari Ibrahim was the featured speaker, along with Dutch police and prosecutors, calling for information to be relayed to the tip line. The information and videos are in Dutch, Arabic, and Kurmanci, and can be seen here.

FYF STAFF TEAM-BUILDING & SELF-CARE SESSION
FYF received a small grant to scale up team-building and self-care with the field team. As part of this effort, approximately 75 staff members gathered for a day-long session to spend time together, engage in fun activities, and enjoy a meal. The participating team members are pictured at the top of this newsletter.
INTERNAL TRAINING ON YEZIDI SURVIVORS' LAW
FYF held trainings and workshops on the Yezidi Survivors' Law, Iraq's reparations program for Yezidi survivors. The trainings were attended by FYF staff, including lawyers, psychologists, and social workers based in three locations. The trainings covered the legal framework, application process, and ethical standards for supporting survivors. FYF will soon complete building its internal capacity, structures, and protocols and will provide survivor-centered support to survivors who wish to apply for reparations.

DID YOU KNOW?
FYF was asked in September to help crowdfund for three-year old Maria, a Yezidi child suffering from a tumor in her neck. Doctors in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region were not able to perform the operations. FYF was able to raise more than $18,000, now delivered to her family, for travel and medical costs. The final disbursement was made on 20 October. We wish Maria and her family safe travels and a successful operation. Thanks to those of you who have supported this effort!

Thank you all, as always, for keeping up with our news and work, and for your steadfast support of FYF and the Yezidi community.

Sincerely,

Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

 

IN THE NEWS

Opsporing Verzocht | Nederlandse IS'ers verdacht van genocide Yezidi's | FYF contributed to the Netherlands' police tip line and public request for information regarding crimes committed by Dutch members of ISIS against Yezidis.

The Gatestone Institute | ISIS Terrorists Living in Turkey - with Yezidi Captives | This article includes FYF's perspective on missing Yezidis, including those rescued in Turkey, and the responsibility of the international community to assist with identification and rescue of missing Yezidis.

Kurdistan 24 | Dutch Prosecutors Ask for Witnesses of ISIS Crimes against Yezidis  | FYF was quoted in this piece, which reviews the new Dutch public request for information about Dutch ISIS perpetrators.
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SEPTEMBER 2022 - NEWS AND UPDATES

 

Dear friends,

Please read below for the Free Yezidi Foundation's news and updates for the month of September.

FYF MEETS WITH FRENCH INVESTIGATIVE JUDGES
On 29 September the Free Yezidi Foundation and legal representatives met with two French investigative judges. FYF has been accepted as a partie civile in the landmark criminal case against Lafarge. FYF will be submitting confidential documents and documents open to the public. At this meeting, FYF submitted a document which can be viewed in English or in French on our website. FYF is grateful to its legal representative in France, Ms. Clemence Bectarte, and to two esteemed international human rights lawyers, Ms. Patricia Viseur Sellers and Ms. Jocelyn Getgen Kestenbaum, for their assistance in preparing for the meeting and composing this document.

FYF submits evidence to French investigative judges on 29 September 2022
FYF AND IOM-IRAQ CONDUCT MEETING WITH MALE YEZIDI SURVIVORS
Male Yezidi survivors have suffered enormously through in the Yezidi genocide, and yet their plight and their needs have often been neglected. FYF and a number of other actors are seeking to prioritize their well-being and ensure they benefit from the provisions included in the Yezidi Survivors' Law, which includes provisions for survivors who were abducted as children. FYF was grateful to partner with IOM to help ensure this category of survivors are also informed of their rights and the benefits to which they are entitled.

YEZIDIS LIBERATED FROM AL-HOL CAMP, SYRIA
Many ISIS members who were captured alive are currently held by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Northeast Syria. This includes male and female ISIS members. One notorious detention camp, Al-Hol, currently holds about 56,000 female ISIS members and affiliates, along with their children. Yezidi captives were enslaved by both male and female ISIS members, and it is known that some missing Yezidis remain held by ISIS in Syria and Turkey. This month, SDF forces conducted a series of raids in Al-Hol camp, liberating several Yezidi women. FYF expressed outrage that Yezidis remain held by female ISIS members, even in detention centers, more than eight years after the Yezidi Genocide began in 2014.
 

MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR THREE-YEAR OLD MARIA
FYF was asked to help support a crowdfunding effort for Maria, a three-year old Yezidi child with an aggressive tumor. Doctors in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region are not able to operate safely to remove the tumor. Activists and Maria's family worked with FYF to collect funds from around the world. In the first disbursement, FYF crowdfunded $3131, which was signed and hand-delivered to Maria's father. FYF has just received a further deposit of just over $7000. 100% of the proceeds go to Maria's family, which will help them travel abroad and pay for the medical treatment. We are optimistic that the family's goal will be reached. Thanks to those of you who have helped provide life-saving medical support for young Maria, and thanks to Yezidi activist Murad Ismael for spurring this humanitarian effort.
 

Maria suffering from a tumor; FYF Country Director Hewan Omer and Maria's father complete paperwork for first tranche of funding.
FYF CONTRIBUTES TO PLAY IN NETHERLANDS
FYF is supporting a play in the Netherlands that focuses on the plight of Yezidis and the aftermath of the Yezidi Genocide. Toneel Groep Maastricht commissioned handcrafted carpets from the FYF Enterprise & Training Center as backdrops for the play, and traveled to Khanke to purchase them and meet with the Yezidi community in Iraq. The group is committed to sharing the story of Yezidi suffering in the Netherlands, and we commend them for this effort. More information and ticket registration can be found here. Previously, a Dutch female ISIS accomplice wrote a book and was featured in a public play in the Netherlands, to the consternation of FYF and the Yezidi community. We are pleased to now see a theatrical representation of the Yezidi community that suffered from the atrocities committed by ISIS.
 

DID YOU KNOW?
Last month we launched an initiative in which friends all over the world can fund a displaced Yezidi child's birthday. Most Yezidi children have been deprived of childhood innocence and happiness since the Yezidi Genocide began in 2014. Thanks to your generosity, we have enough funds for 28 less fortunate Yezidi children to hold birthday parties, in each case inviting ten friends or family members. Here is a photo from the first such donor-funded party. If you would like to participate, click here. Thank you for supporting Yezidi children!

Thank you all, as always, for your steadfast support of FYF and the Yezidi community.

Sincerely,

Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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AUGUST 2022 - NEWS AND UPDATES

 

Dear friends,

The Yezidi community gathers every year in August to commemorate the 2014 Yezidi Genocide, assess challenges, and call for support to and solidarity with our people. Please read on for August monthly news and updates.

YEZIDI GENOCIDE COMMEMORATION
The Free Yezidi Foundation, Sinjar Academy, and Youth Bridge Development Organization held an in-person commemoration event at FYF's Enterprise & Training Center in Khanke. The event included displays by Yezidi artists and statements by Yezidi civilians and UN and diplomatic spokespeople. Mahdi Murad opened the ceremony with his poem: "We have lived eight years as if they were one day. We all became orphans after August 3rd. We don't want to live a jungle life where the strong eat the weak... the young have lost years of their lives."

A two-minute video from a journalist who covered the commemoration event can be found by clicking here.

FYF, SA, YB staff members united on 3 August; Abo Majed holds photos of missing family members; paintings by Yezidi artists on display; UNITAD and Netherlands representatives address Yezidi community
FYF also hosted four virtual panels to commemorate the Yezidi Genocide. These panels included Yezidi and international experts as well as representatives from governments, United Nations, and non-governmental organizations.

- "In most genocides, there is some story of 'we did not know it was happening.' But with ISIS, it was happening in plain sight. When [European ISIS members] do return, we should not prosecute them for smaller crimes, but we should prosecute them for complicity in genocide." - Netherlands Member of Parliament Pieter Omtzigt

- "When I speak as a prosecutor about holding ISIS perpetrators accountable for atrocious crimes against Yezidis, I have to say that there is still a lot to be done, and that the process of bringing ISIS to justice has just started." - German federal prosecutor Anna Zabeck

- "I call upon the Government of Iraq to use a whole-of-government approach to support the Directorate for Survivors' Affairs created by the Yezidi Survivors' Law to deliver on each of the benefits promised by the law." United Nations SRSG Pramila Patten

- "The Sinjar Agreement lacked extensive consultation with the local population...it cannot be implemented effectively nor improve the lives of Sinjar's residents if it does not receive buy-in from the local community...the US Government has heard this loud and clear from the Yezidi community." - US State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Jen Gavito

The full recorded discussion can be viewed on FYF's social media platforms. Click here to watch.

FYF released a 3 August 2022 statement calling on international stakeholders and policymakers to contribute to the well-being, empowerment, and rehabilitation of the Yezidi community. The statement calls for the following:

- No-fly zone over Sinjar
- Education and empowerment of Yezidi IDPs
- A functional plan to rescue missing Yezidis and support survivor recovery
- Ensuring ISIS perpetrators held in Syria face justice
- Allocation of resources for Yezidi civil society

FYF Executive Director Pari Ibrahim also co-authored three opinion pieces to mark the Yezidi Genocide:

Yezidi Post-Genocide Plight - Severe Challenges Eight Years on (Newsweek)
Remembering the Yezidi Genocide Eight Years Ago (Jerusalem Post)
Eight Years after Genocide, the World Owes the Yezidis a Debt (National Interest)

Finally, the US Department of State released a video about FYF's work to commemorate the Yezidi Genocide. Click here to watch.
BIRTHDAY CELEBRATIONS FOR DISPLACED YEZIDI CHILDREN

This month FYF announced an initiative to throw birthday parties for displaced Yezidi children. Many young Yezidis in Iraq have lived in IDP or refugee camps for most or all of their lives, and many have never celebrated a birthday. You can now sponsor a birthday party for a Yezidi child and ten of his or her friends at FYF's Sugar is Sweet bakery and café.

The child will receive a hand-crafted stuffed animal, made by our Yezidi crafts artisans, and a birthday party with cakes, drinks, and sweets at our cafe, staffed 100% by displaced Yezidi women. This initiative helps to support the crafts and bakery enterprises while providing displaced Yezidi children with a day of hope, happiness, and pleasant memories. You can participate in this initiative today by clicking here.

FYF REMEMBERS THE KOCHO MASSACRE
The Yezidi community remembers the Kocho massacre, which occurred on 15 August 2014, each year. FYF has worked with many survivors from Kocho who continue their struggle to overcome the loss and grief in the aftermath of the Yezidi Genocide.
COMMEMORATING VICTIMS OF RELIGIOUS-BASED VIOLENCE

FYF joined lawyers and activists on a panel to mark the International Day Commemorating Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief this month. FYF highlighted the centuries-long marginalization and oppression of the Yezidi community that continues to threaten Yezidis living in Iraq and Syria.
DID YOU KNOW?
Of the Yezidis who once lived in Afrin, Syria, 90% have been forced to flee. Turkish-backed militias terrorize those who remain, include ISIS and Al-Qaeda members, and have been engaged in facilitating the trafficking of Yezidi and other women. Afrin is now a hotbed of extremism.
 
Thank you all, as always, for keeping up with our news and work, and for your steadfast support of FYF and the Yezidi community.

Sincerely,

Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

IN THE NEWS

Newsweek | Yazidi Post-Genocide Plight - Severe Challenges Eight Years on – Opinion | Pari Ibrahim and Murad Ismael discuss the extensive challenges which continue to plague Yezidis

The Jerusalem Post | Remembering the Yezidi Genocide eight years ago - By Pari Ibrahim and  Susan Heller Pinto | The Yezidi experience has ongoing significance for the Middle East and the region’s other religious minorities

The National Interest | Eight Years After Genocide, the World Owes the Yezidis a Debt - by Megan Bodette and Pari Ibrahim | The international community must commit to empowering Yezidis to build a safe, sustainable post-ISIS future with the same vigor deployed in defeating ISIS

U.N. Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence and Conflict | SRSG Patten’s Video Remarks for the Free Yezidi Foundation’s Eight-Year Commemoration of the Yezidi Genocide, 3 August 2022  |  "... we have a special thought for those from your community that remain missing ... I and the entire United Nations system stand with you."

United States Institute of Peace | Five Ways to Make the U.S. Atrocity Prevention Strategy Work | While real challenges remain, the strategy represents important progress. FYF was thanked for our essential work along with our partners in this work.

The Mirror | Inside horror camp women and children are still stuck in 8 years after ISIS massacre | Pari Ibrahim cites the trauma, desperation and seeing no hope for the future as one of the reasons suicide rates are alarmingly high

Middle East Eye | Iraq: Dutch police seek information on perpetrators of Islamic State crimes against Yazidis | At a panel sponsored by FYF, the discussion focused on the hunt for Dutch nationals or those residing in The Netherlands involved in genocide comes as Yazidis commemorate eighth anniversary of mass killings in Iraq

Medya News | Eight Year Commemoration of the Yezidi Genocide online event | FYF’s series of four online panels addressed ongoing work to achieve justice for the victims of the Yezidi genocide, rights for the genocide survivors, Yezidi’s current situation in Sinjar, and the geo-political situation that exists in the Sinjar region, including the issues in relation to the Sinjar Agreement and the ongoing Turkish drone attacks on Yazidi survivors

K24 | US Deputy Assistant Secretary underlines need to implement Sinjar agreement| Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq and Iran, Jennifer Gavito, stresses the need for the implementation of the Sinjar agreement and armed groups to be removed from Sinjar

K24 | Turkish drone attack kills SDF member in Assyrian village | “The United States is not supportive of Turkish actions in northern Iraq or northern Syria," said Douglas Hoyt, the Acting Deputy Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, at an event hosted by FYF
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Free Yezidi Foundation

Location: Duhok, NA - Iraq
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @free_yezidi
Project Leader:
Pari Ibrahim
Duhok, Kurdistan Region Iraq
$41,168 raised of $103,800 goal
 
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