Yezidis Continue to Struggle in IDP Camps
Flash floods in IDP camps
Credit: anonymous photographer
It is nearly four years since the ISIS genocide was perpetrated against Yezidi civilians, and it is sad to note that most Yezidis are still languishing in IDP camps. Although the existential danger of ISIS terrorism has dissipated, Yezidis are still very far away from enjoying healthy and dignified daily lives. In early May, a flash flood had a terrible effect on families living in tents in IDP camps. As a consequence, many tents are damaged and has made life in the camps even more difficult. Further, the complicated political and security situation in Shingal combined with the lack of infrastructure and housing has made it hard for many families to return home. It does not appear that any government or party will soon be capable of providing security, stability, and reconstruction to the Yezidi homelands.
Activities at the Free Yezidi Foundation Center
Credit: Free Yezidi Foundation
FYF activities in the camp
Since 2015, FYF has operated a women’s center and a children’s center in the Khanke IDP camp. In the women’s center, FYF instructors, all Yezidi IDPs themselves, provide instruction in various courses. Our psychologists offer dynamic courses to help build resilience, overcome trauma, and deploy creative methods including art, sports, and music to bolster social cohesion and confidence. FYF is helping women to systematically craft and sell sewn and knitted items. Through this, they can provide some basic income to improve their living conditions. Our women’s rights instructor also provides information to the women and girls about family rights, legal support, non-discrimination, and laws in support of women and children. Providing accurate information is essential, and FYF psychologists have begun camp-wide seminars to help inform residents about trauma, coping mechanisms, and resilience.
We are expecting to dramatically expand our activities both in and out of camp in 2018. We want to provide Yezidis, especially Yezidi women, with the chance to attain greater economic strength and self-sufficiency. Stay tuned for further developments!
FYF trauma therapist conducts community meeting about trauma and coping strategies
Credit: Free Yezidi Foundation
Yezidis in Iraq and abroad are eager to see justice and accountability for the crimes committed against our people. At the same time, there has been a disturbing and growing trend in the efforts to promote justice for Yezidis. Firstly, a variety of actors have begun working with Yezidi survivors, and we have noticed some unfortunate trends in unethical and exploitative behavior. We believe justice requires a victim-centric approach, but we have found some individuals, organisations, lawyers, advocates, journalists, and consultants view the suffering of Yezidis as opportunities for themselves or a chance for ‘humanitarian tourism’ experiences. In our efforts to listen to and understand victims concerns and wishes, we have noted that many of the professionals who should be helping survivors are in fact exploiting their suffering for personal reasons.
We hope that the international community and human rights actors will adhere strictly to best practices and codes of conduct when dealing with Yezidi survivors, especially survivors of sexual violence. And we call upon foreign governments to ensure that they are not supporting unethical and exploitative practices. All those seeking to help Yezidis must in the first instance ensure that they are not re-victimizing the survivors!
Yezidi woman sewing at the Free Yezidi Foundation Center
Credits: Free Yezidi Foundation
In coming months, we will be sharing some further developments in advocacy, humanitarian work, justice, and political representation for Yezidis.
- Pari Ibrahim
Free Yezidi Foundation