Yezidi Children's Safe Space

by Free Yezidi Foundation
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Yezidi Children's Safe Space
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FYF Monthly Newsletter - September 2020

FYF Women's Center Graduation was held on 1 September 2020

 

Dear Friends,


The month of September has brought forth a number of grave challenges, as well as some successes and opportunities. You can find out more from the activities and news items below.

FYF Holds Women's Center Graduation
 
The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down progress in many of our programs, just like the rest of the world. Nonetheless, by reducing our numbers, ensuring social distancing, and enacting a prevention policy to include masks and enhanced facility maintenance, nearly 100 women and girls were able to graduate and earn their certificates from our program. Congratulations to our graduates, and welcome to our new cohort!
 
Trauma and Suicide Threaten Yezidi Community
 
Unfortunately, a number of Yezidis committed suicide over the past month. This includes several youth and an older woman who self-immolated in the IDP camp where FYF operates. Trauma is an often unseen danger that threatens the well-being of every segment of the Yezidi population. FYF has publicly and privately urged a number of governments and foreign aid organizations to focus on smart, practical programs to help provide MHPSS care and trauma treatment to the Yezidi people. We believe this is just as important as physical infrastructure development and the delivery of basic services. We mourn those we have lost and continue to support the FYF Harikara (helpers) as they conduct tent by tent visits to provide basic coping and self-care skills and refer difficult cases to our psychologists. The FYF Harikara are pictured below.

 

FYF Wraps up Combatting GBV Pilot Project in Sheikhan
 
FYF has been providing support services to victims of gender based violence and gender discrimination over the last months in the town of Sheikhan. This is part of an ambitious pilot project to scale up services and resources for Yezidi women and girls, and FYF is very proud to have played a role in this effort. FYF worked on this pilot with MSI, the implementing lead, and it was funded by USAID through its Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response. This pilot project will come to a close in September. Implementing this sensitive project during the COVID pandemic brought about some challenges and delays, as would be expected.

Through this effort, FYF received a significant demand for such services, at times overwhelming our staff capacity. The pilot project identified a very real need in this area as well as some valuable lessons learned for the future. As a result, FYF will continue operating its base of operations in Sheikhan, and we will retain a number of key staff members so that we can complete current cases and offer services through our social workers and advocates. FYF is enormously grateful to those aid and humanitarian agencies and individuals who attach importance to the rights of women and girls everywhere, including in the Yezidi community. As a Yezidi-women-led organization, FYF prioritizes gender equality and women's rights. We were very pleased with the positive response from many in our community, including social and religious leaders, in support of this effort to help modernize and improve Yezidi society. FYF looks forward to building upon the findings and the progress in this pilot project through future efforts in Sheikhan and beyond.

FYF office in Sheikhan, a base for providing support services to GBV and gender discrimination victims

 

FYF Conducts Periodic Fumigation of Facilities
 
FYF has been strict in adhering to COVID prevention guidelines for humanitarian settings. In addition to mandating masks and social distancing, FYF conducts periodic fumigation efforts to ensure that facilities are kept clean. In the IDP camp setting, this is critical, as COVID spread is much more difficult to combat and social distancing more difficult to enforce.

 

FYF Distributes Aid Packages to Vulnerable Families
 
In September, FYF provided 300 aid packages to a number of in and out of camp residents in greatest need, including survivors. The packages contained food items, hygiene and cleaning supplies, masks that were sewn by the FYF sewing team, and WHO flyers providing information on preventing the spread of COVID. FYF appreciates the support from the Austrian state of Land Tyrol for funding this and other FYF humanitarian supply deliveries.

FYF's annual report for 2019 is now available online.
Please click the link here if you wish to view our 2019 report.


 

Thank you, friends, for your continued solidarity with the Free Yezidi Foundation and the Yezidi people.

Sincerely,


Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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FYF Virtual Commemoration of Yezidi Genocide - 3 August 2020

 


Free Yezidi Foundation Commemoration of the Yezidi Genocide
 
The Free Yezidi Foundation (FYF) invites you to join us as we commemorate six years since the Yezidi Genocide. We will be holding a virtual event with local and international experts from various UN, governmental, and non-governmental actors. Our goal is to bring together experts on a wide range of subjects to foster meaningful conversations on the plight of Yezidis and efforts toward recovery and a brighter future. Confirmed speakers include United Nations representatives, diplomats, academics, and field experts.
 
Six years ago, ISIS militants swept through Sinjar and surrounding towns and conducted a deliberate attempt to annihilate the Yezidi people. It is important that the atrocities, sexual violence, and genocide perpetrated by ISIS are remembered by the international community, as Yezidis continue to pursue meaningful action. August 3rd is a day of sorrow for the Yezidi people, especially survivors. At this time of the year, we ask our friends and allies to come together to discuss the genocide and its effect on Yezidis.
 
The commemoration will be broadcast on Monday, 3 August 2020:
 
8am – 2pm EST (New York)
1pm – 7pm GMT (United Kingdom)
2pm – 8pm CET (Central Europe)
3pm – 9pm Iraq
 
Please save the date for this important event. More details will be forthcoming with instructions on how to view the panels.
 
We hope that you can join us and show your support. On behalf of the FYF team, thank you for your dedication to the rights and welfare of Yezidis. 
 
Sincerely,
 
 
The Free Yezidi Foundation

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FYF Monthly Newsletter - June 2020Danger to Yezidis and Religious Minorities Escalates in Syria
 
Over the last two years, Turkey and Turkish-supported militias have committed countless violations in Afrin and in North East Syria. This has included wholescale demographic change and ethnic cleansing, looting, and destruction of houses of worship, with particular danger faced by religious minorities like Yezidis, Christians, and others. In the last months, several Yezidi women have been kidnapped. Turkey and Turkish-backed extremist forces, including former ISIS members, took control of Afrin in 2018 and parts of North East Syria in 2019. The Free Yezidi Foundation issued a stark warning in early 2019 of the calamitous impact that these invasions would have on the existence of religious minorities in the area.
 
Voices from the Field
 
FYF’s trauma team has been working to provide our beneficiaries with remote services during the current COVID-19 crisis. In this segment of “voices from the field,” we hear directly from our trauma team in the field about what it is like working with survivors in the displaced Yezidi community during the pandemic.
 
"During COVID-19 the suicidality we encounter within the Yezidi population has increased sharply. A main reason is frustration due to challenges by the prolonged stay in the camps, lack of employment, poverty, and hopelessness for the future. As a result there is an increased demand for trauma treatment.

The weeks of working remotely with our beneficiaries and team members proved to be challenging as the electricity and internet connection were not always stable. In addition, most of our beneficiaries did not have internet at all, so we had to work by telephone. Although we were grateful that we were able to support our beneficiaries during the lockdown, especially those suffering from severe trauma, we found telephone sessions challenging because we were not able to see their faces or make direct eye contact.
 
With the gradual relaxing of the restrictions, we were finally able to return to the Women’s Center and begin seeing our beneficiaries and team members in person. It felt great to be able to meet them face-to-face after so many weeks of working remotely.
 
Now the whole trauma team is back working at the center and in the field, though in a reduced capacity. As this pandemic appears to be with us for the foreseeable future, we are taking all the necessary precautions to keep ourselves and our beneficiaries safe by following physical distancing and prevention guidelines."
 
- The FYF Trauma Team

FYF staff providing beneficiaries with language courses at a reduced capacity. 

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FYF May Newsletter

Children in Khanke IDP camp celebrate the Yezidi New Year.

Dear Friends,
 
In April, Yezidis around the world celebrated the Yezidi New Year, despite the global challenges we all face. During this difficult time, FYF remains steadfast in our commitment to providing aid and support to Yezidis in need.

FYF’s COVID-19 Response

FYF continues to deliver protective equipment to essential frontline workers and IDPs living in and around Khanke IDP camp. Now more than ever, displaced Yezidi communities need accurate information and health guidance. FYF distributed hygiene kits and WHO recommendation flyers to more than 600 families, including single women and widows. Our hygiene kits consist of hygienic pads for women, antibacterial products, wet wipes, shampoo, and a COVID-19 awareness brochure. In addition, our team in Khanke began manufacturing and distributing protective masks to camp residents and essential personnel such as medical staff, doctors, checkpoint officials, government officials, and camp managers. We are working to increase our production in the coming weeks to meet the needs of vulnerable Yezidis in the region.

Looking Back

FYF’s justice project and trauma program continue to operate virtually. Our legal team has been working to identify and interview survivors of ISIS crimes. Our team conducted remote information sessions and has analyzed information on potential cases. Justice and accountability for atrocities against Yezidis, including gender-based crimes, remains an important aspect of FYF’s work. Even in times of crisis, we must not allow perpetrators to escape with impunity.

After health authorities issued a decision to prevent public gatherings, the FYF trauma team began using social media to support our beneficiaries through videos about mental health in quarantine and COVID-19 prevention. Our team conducted individual psychological assessments and therapy sessions virtually. FYF psychologists also completed remote training and support sessions for our field staff.

FYF distributing dignity kits to IDP camp residents.

Justice for genocide: Yazidis hopeful as Islamic State trial opens in Germany | Pari Ibrahim, FYF's Executive Director, was quoted in an Al-Monitor article highlighting the trial of Taha Al-J in Frankfurt, Germany. According to the indictment, the suspect purchased and enslaved a Yezidi woman and her 5-year-old daughter. The suspected ISIS militant is being accused of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes.

15-year-old Yezidi genocide survivor killed in Germany | Pari was also quoted in a Kurdistan 24 article about Arkan Hussein Kjo, a survivor of the Yezidi genocide, who was killed in Germany. “Although the specific motives behind the attack are not yet known, it is nevertheless a sad event to see a Yezidi survivor suffer. Our thoughts are with the family of the victim and we hope that justice will be served.”
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FYF Newsletter - April 2020

 

FYF staff discuss coronavirus prevention with IDP community.

Dear Friends,

The Free Yezidi Foundation (FYF) wishes you and your family safety and good health during these challenging and unsettling times. FYF would like to reassure you that, although our work has been met with unique challenges, we remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting the Yezidi community with humanitarian and human rights support. The FYF team, both on the ground and abroad, remain grateful to you for your continued support.

FYF’s Response to Covid-19

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) begins to spread throughout Iraq, we are particularly concerned with the disproportional impact it may have on the Yezidi community residing in IDP camps, especially for women and girls. The coronavirus poses the greatest threat to those with less access to resources and information, like internally displaced persons, some of the most vulnerable people in the world. That is why FYF took early action to raise awareness about the coronavirus to camp residents. Our team visited over 400 Yezidi families over a two-day period prior to the outbreak, providing information on how to prevent the spread of the virus, good personal hygiene habits, and World Health Organization recommendations. FYF has identified several critical needs in the camp, including limited access to soap and water and lack of sanitation in some areas. We will continue to work on the front lines of this crisis and monitor the situation as it unfolds.

Looking Back

Despite recent events, FYF’s work saw a number of successes in early March. FYF’s staff working on our gender-based violence (GBV) project in Shekhan conducted a series of in-depth training sessions focused on advocating for women’s rights and gender equality in the Yezidi community. Participants had an opportunity to develop GBV prevention and support strategies and will undergo further training on specialized case intervention.  

FYF held graduation ceremonies for participants at our Women’s and Children’s Centers. More than 140 women graduated from a six-month educational course, which includes English and Arabic language, computer skills, sewing, knitting, and seminars on women’s rights. In addition, 165 children graduated from a three-month educational course focused on languages, computer skills, and art. We are extremely proud of all our graduates.

FYF’s team in Khanke was honored to welcome Adama Dieng, UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the Prevention of Genocide, and Karim Khan, UN Special Adviser and Head of UNITAD. During their visit with FYF, the two officials met with Yezidi survivors in Khanke and FYF's humanitarian and justice team members, where they underlined the UN and UNITAD’s commitment to support efforts to hold those most responsible for ISIS crimes to account.

350 women and children registered for FYF’s Women’s and Children’s Centers. When it is again safe for programs to resume, FYF will provide them with educational courses, economic skills training, and a safe space in which they can express themselves and build meaningful social connections. At our Women’s Center, FYF staff will focus on capacity-building and skill development, empowering Yezidi women and promoting women’s agency in the community.

Ms. Hewan Omer, FYF's Country Director, discusses Yezidi needs and priorities with Mr. Dieng and Mr. Khan.

 

Gucci's Chime for Change 25 for 25 Series: Pari Ibrahim | Pari Ibrahim, FYF’s Executive Director, was featured in Gucci's Chime For Change 25 for 25 Series, an original content series that highlights activists who represent progress made on gender equality.


How Journalists and NGOs Help Track Down ISIS Criminals: Lessons from Iraqi Kurdistan | FYF was features in a Wilson Center article about NGOs and Journalists working to help locate missing Yezidis and identify ISIS perpetrators.


Woman Accused of ISIS Membership Faces Terror Charges in Germany After Journalists Expose Her | Pari Ibrahim, FYF’s Executive Director, was quoted in a Kurdistan 24 article highlighting women affiliated with Islamic State living in Europe without being held accountable for their crimes.

 

FYF envisions a world in which vulnerable Yezidi community members have the strength, support and opportunity to rebuild a better and more resilient future. Despite the challenges we are all facing, FYF continues to support and uplift vulnerable Yezidis in times of crisis. We will continue to advocate for women’s rights and empowerment in Yezidi communities, and we remain grateful for your support.


 
Sincerely,



Pari Ibrahim
Executive Director
Free Yezidi Foundation

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Organization Information

Free Yezidi Foundation

Location: Duhok, NA - Iraq
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @free_yezidi
Project Leader:
Pari Ibrahim
Duhok, Kurdistan Region Iraq
$40,011 raised of $103,800 goal
 
409 donations
$63,789 to go
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