The Yezidi Humanitarian Crisis and Genocide in Iraq
The fall of Sinjar and Nineveh plain on August 3th led to the displacement of a half million Yezidis to Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, Turkey, and Syria. This internally and externally displaced population now lives under critical conditions.
Below is a summary of the situation facing Yezidi refugees and the solutions we propose:
On August 3, 2014, the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) made a massive assault on the Yezidi ethnic group in Nineveh Province, northern Iraq. The assault resulted in full control by ISIL of the Sinjar region, home to 360,000 Yezidis, and partial control of Nineveh plain, an area that is home to 200,000 Yezidis.
This disaster caused the deaths of more than 3,000 Yezidis; the abduction of 5,000 Yezidis, mostly women and children; and the displacement of more than 90 percent of the Yezidi population in Iraq into Iraq’s Kurdistan region, the Kurdish region of Syria, and Turkey.
Situation on the Ground
- An estimated half-million Yezidis are refugees and IDPs in dire need in Iraq’s Kurdistan region, Syria and Turkey. Only a small percentage remained on Mount Sinjar or joined family members in Kurdish cities.
- The vast majority of Yezidi refugees and IDPs are suffering from homelessness, unemployment, and food insecurity.
- The most vulnerable populations of infants, children and elderly face a life-threatening crisis on a daily basis. Every day, 20 refugees and IDPs are reported to have died from hunger or illness.
- Many of the displaced people have taken refuge in the streets, abandoned buildings, or in open areas. Most existing refugee/IDP camps are full and unable to absorb more IDPs/refugees.
- Many refugees have been subject to great trauma and emotional disorders without treatment available.
- Refugees’ mobility is limited: Most refugees are unable to travel from Iraq due to numerous factors.
Short-Term Solutions (Listed By Urgency):
Urgent humanitarian assistance is needed for the displaced Yezidi population, including:
- Food and water for more than 400,000 displaced Yezidis in Kurdistan, Turkey and Syria.
- Immediate humanitarian support for the vulnerable population of infants, children and elderly. Reports of death among these populations are common.
- Immediate humanitarian support for the approximately 1,000 Yezidi families remaining on Mount Sinjar who are lacking basic services and suffering from great material shortages.
- Direct medical assistance to refugee populations and psychological assistance to people who have been subject to trauma, such as rape, sexual assault, physical abuse, detention, or being trapped on Mount Sinjar during the crisis.
Long Term Solutions (Listed By Urgency):
- Build safe and sustainable camps for refugees who are emotionally and psychologically unable to return to their homes even after they are reclaimed and resecured from ISIL. For many, the trauma is far too great for a return to their homes to be a rapid process.
- Work with the international community to find a safe home for Yezidis who can no longer live in Iraq. We estimate that more than 70 percent of the Yezidi population may refuse to return to their homes because of chronic insecurity and the incapacity of government protection.
- Establish a safe zone in Sinjar and Nineveh plain for Yezidis, Christians, and other vulnerable populations with protection provided by The United Nations.
What we do
Yazda’s mission is to address the immediate humanitarian needs of the Yezidi people, support their long term rehabilitation, advocate for the liberation and restoration of their homelands, and document the crimes against humanity perpetuated against them. advocate for assistance from international organizations for the displaced Yezidi people and to coordinate this assistance. We offer our help to agencies working on the crisis, and can facilitate their engagement with Yezidi people in need. We also offer volunteers from our community in the United States to help with the mission of other agencies, including travel with those agencies to Iraq and facilitation of their activities.