FYF Monthly Newsletter - February 2021
We hope this newsletter finds you and your families safe and healthy. February was both a somber and a hopeful month, marked by commemorations, groundbreakings, and community losses. We are reminded at this time of the power of community as we work together to build a better future for the Yezidi people.
On February 4th, a ceremony was held to lay to rest 104 Yezidis murdered in Kocho on August 15-16, 2014 by ISIS terrorists. Following ceremonies in Baghdad, dignitaries and families joined together in Kocho to honor the valued community members lost on those fateful days. FYF mental health paraprofessionals - some of whom are survivors themselves - were present at the burial to provide onsite services to those in need.
FYF issued a statement upon the burial, noting that “FYF has worked with a large number of survivors from Kocho, some of whom have bravely provided their accounts about the systematic nature of the ISIS attacks, executions, subsequent enslavement, and other atrocities they have suffered. FYF and others are working to ensure that those who perpetrated these crimes are held accountable, wherever they are located.”
You can find the full statement here.
FYF turned a new page this month, breaking ground on the Bakery Training Center. Instructors at the center will train Yezidi women in basic business skills (including mathematics) and baking techniques. In turn, this will give trainees better skills to build their own small businesses or secure employment, whether in the IDP setting or upon return to Sinjar. With a recent study in the International Journal of Mental Health Systems indicating that employment plays a significant role in suicide ideation among Yezidi survivors, livelihoods projects like this one are a critical piece of the puzzle for both financial stability and psychological well-being.
Unfortunately, February saw the loss of multiple members of the Yezidi community. In Bersive IDP camp, five tents burned and tragically, four Yezidi lives were lost. This avoidable incident highlighted the desperate need for better housing solutions in Yezidi IDP camps, including pre-fab caravans that don’t require dangerous gas heaters during the cold winter months.
The mental health and suicide crisis is also ongoing, with another young life lost to suicide this month in the Khanke IDP camp. While our Harikara teams were deployed in an effort to prevent the loss of life, the individual at risk was unfortunately no longer at his residence by the time our team arrived. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones. Meanwhile, our team will continue to provide support in the community to the greatest extent possible.
FYF Harikara visits an IDP family
Thank you, friends, for your continued solidarity with the Free Yezidi Foundation and the Yezidi people.
Free Yezidi Foundation
In the News
The Jerusalem Post
| Yazidis denounce Syrian ruling requiring them to follow Islamic law
| A recent ruling in Syria strips the indigenous Yezidi population of fundamental religious freedoms. FYF is quoted regarding the dangers of subjecting Yezidis to Muslim religious courts.
| Hopelessness, continued displacement lead to spike in suicides among Yezidis: KRG
| FYF mental health and psychosocial support paraprofessionals are quoted in this article highlighting increased suicide numbers among the displaced Yezidi population.