Yazda Iraq

Our Yazda office in Iraq.


The Yazda office in Iraq commenced operations on the 15th of January 2015. With direct access to IDPs, refugees, returnees and the host community, Yazda Iraq is the central hub of our work. Working on the ground in Iraq allows us to effectively and efficiently support people in need to better recover from the short-, medium-, and long-term effects of the ongoing genocidal campaign perpetrated against the Yazidi people.

Locations of work:


Yazda currently works within Duhok Governorate, located within the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and Nineveh Governorate, which is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government of Iraq. In Dohuk, there are 22 IDP and refugee camps. We also support households and communities in informal settlements, which include non-camp locations and unfinished buildings, as well as displaced persons who may be living in urban areas. In Nineveh, we work in the Sinjar district, especially on Sinjar mountain, where IDP families have been living since 2014, and in the foothills, villages, and towns on the north side of Sinjar, where people and families are beginning to return and resettle following the liberation of the area from IS.

Ongoing projects in Iraq:

Rehabilitation of Survivors

Thousands of Yazidi civilians, mostly women and children, were kidnapped by IS during and after the attack on the Sinjar region. One of Yazda’s biggest projects in Iraq is the psychosocial support (PSS) program which operates out of the Yazda Women’s Center near our main office in Duhok. The center receives survivors of IS captivity and enslavement, and offers services which include case management, counselling, support group sessions, classes and recreational activities, and material aid as needs demand and our resources can provide. Our case managers are trained to support those who have experienced trauma, rape, trafficking, and other atrocities.

So far, Yazda has received over 1,100 female survivors. We also work in collaboration with the government of Iraq to provide cash assistance through a social security program and we coordinate with other organizations, agencies, and government facilities to refer survivors to other forms of assistance where necessary. Currently, we are piloting a children’s program which combines psychosocial support and educational interventions, with the aim of transitioning children back or into formal education settings. We hope to expand this program very soon.

Yazda Medical

Yazda operates the first primary healthcare (PHC) center in Essian IDP Camp, which is located in the Shekhan District of eastern Dohuk Governorate. The camp is home to approximately 14,900 IDPs. the center treats approximately 3,500 people every month with a team of four doctors and eighteen nurses, in addition to administrative staff. The PHC also offers psychosocial support, and contains an integrated laboratory, an ultrasound and technician for care of pregnant women, and a dental department.

Additionally, Yazda operates a Mobile Medical clinic in Sinjar which serves and supports people across 35 locations in the liberated areas north of Sinjar Mountain. The unit covers a 72 kilometer wide stretch of territory over a three week cycle. It is operated by two clinical nurses in conjunction with two social workers. Yazda Mobile Medical treats around 1,500 people monthly, many of whom live in remote areas and have no other access to medical services.

Sinjar Outreach

This project aims to support vulnerable households by distributing income-generating livestock, such as milking goats, egg-laying chickens, and honeybees, or by training women in sewing, handicrafts, and soap-making activities, in conjunction with the distribution of sewing machines and other tools and materials. The training programs also include long-term follow-up to best empower women to support their families and communities in a sustainable, self-reliant manner. Through Sinjar Outreach, materials including tents and waterproof tarpaulins are also distributed to households continuing to live in camp-based situations in Sinjar to allow people and families to continue focusing on rebuilding and rehabilitating their lives with minimal hindrance from difficult life circumstances.

Currently, Yazda is operating Sinjar Outreach in coordination with a generous partnership from the UNDP.

Education Program

In late 2016, Yazda is piloting a children’s program which combines psychosocial support and educational interventions, with the aim of transitioning children back or into formal education settings, as mentioned above. This is currently running out of a child-friendly space (CFS) within the Yazda Women’s Center but expansion will include outreach to camps and Sinjar.

Further, Yazda has previously supported schools in Dohuk, operated informal education classes in camps, provided school kits and clothing to orphans, and and is currently building a school which will accommodate over 200 primary-school aged children in Sinjar. An earlier project, Qeleme Zerin (Golden Pen) operated for six months from during 2016, and helped to prepare students for study at institutes and university. Activities included lectures, discussion sessions, and travel to different museums, archaeological sites, and places of note in Kurdistan – including Halabja, the site of Saddam Hussein’s chemical attack on Kurdish civilians in 1988. Murad Suliman Allo, a Yazidi poet and intellectual, managed and operated this project.

Yazda aims to launch an expanded education program in 2017 which will include professional and academic career preparation classes, literacy classes, informal education activities and CFS in camps, and reconstruction and rehabilitation of educational infrastructure in Sinjar. We are currently seeking funding for this. Yazda firmly believes that educational support for children and youth is crucial for the long-term rehabilitation, rejuvenation, and self-sufficiency of the Yazidi community.

Documentation Project

Yazda has team of ten staff trained and qualified to collecting data and information through interviewing survivors of the August 3rd attack in Sinjar. We aim to document their stories and experiences, as well as to build a database of information about Yazidi history, culture, and daily life before 2014. The Documentation team previously published a report detailing 35 mass graves in the Sinjar Region, which is available on our website.

Tîrêja Rojê (Ray of the Sun)

Yazda operates Tîrêja Rojê in conjunction with Yazidi religious and community leaders. Within this project, leaders hold regular sessions for children and adults to pass on oral Yazidi traditions in the manner in which the community has done so for generations. Further, the sessions operate as a space to pass on messages of positive social values, which include topics such as honesty, respect, and good manners for children, and heavier subjects such as community reintegration and peace-building for adults. Thus, Tîrêja Rojê operates as both a community reintegration project and a tool of cultural preservation, which is of vital importance following the existential threat to the Yazidi community from August 2014.

The leaders working within this project also closely collaborate with our case management team in the Yazda Women’s Center. Religious leaders attend support group sessions and facilitate pilgrimages to Lalish for survivors of captivity and enslavement. These pilgrimages are extremely effective in enabling survivors to feel welcomed and supported by the wider community and able to begin moving forward again in their lives. The visibility of the pilgrimages and strong messages of support expressed by the religious leaders further reinforce a long-term message of community reintegration and solidarity. This unique aspect of Yazda’s work is enabled by our strong community roots and the substantial trust given to us by the community with which we work and support.

Yazda’s International Advocacy Efforts

Yazda supports the defense and promotion of human rights in general. In the case of the Yazidis, Yazda has been working with Nadia Murad Base Taha, whose work has taken the experience of suffering at the hands of IS from 2014 into international knowledge. Nadia works tirelessly to advocate for the thousands of persecuted Yazidi women and children who remain in captivity today and to generate the international will never to allow such atrocities to occur again, either to the Yazidis or to any other peoples. Nadia was honored with the appointment of UNODC Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking in 2016, and was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Nadia has been recognized by numerous other bodies and awarded a number of prizes related to her work to champion human rights. Nadia is also working in conjunction with noted human rights lawyer Amal Clooney to bring a case of genocide before the International Criminal Court.

Coordination with Board of Directors in the US

Yazda Iraq operates in close coordination with the Board of Directors in the US. We enjoy frequent visits by Board Members here on the ground, and Abid Shamdin, named above, is working within Yazda Iraq on a long-term basis.

Contact Details

Address: Malta- Sozdar Road
Behind Aland Motel
Mobile: (+964) 7504190169
Email: iq@yazda.org

Yazda Iraq Director


Silvia Zunino joined Yazda as country director in February. She has a background in management, architecture, and art therapy counseling through both the private and public sectors. Silvia’s experience with NGOs has included working to rebuild schools and hospitals in Kosovo in 1999 and managing and preventing cholera outbreaks in Tanzania with Doctors without Borders. Originally from northern Italy, she has spent most of the past twenty years living overseas.


Operations Manager


Jameel Chomer is the manager of operations. He, along with his wife and three children, escaped Shingal on August 3rd. Now living in Dohuk, Jameel used to teach in Shingal. He holds a degree from Mosul University, College of Education, in the Psychology Department.


Case Manager


Fareda Farid Jrdo is a case manager with Yazda-women’s Center and holds a degree from the Technical Institute. With a history of NGO work, including JEN and MEDAIR, Fareda also specializes in statistics. Fareda is from Khanasor village in Shingal, and now lives in Dohuk.


Case Manager


Hiyam Yousif Nassir is a case manager and works in the children’s program. Now attending high school in Dohuk, Hiyam is originally from Shingal. When not at school or Yazda, she works in education with several other NGOs, including AMI and UNICEF.


Finance and Human Resources Officer


Nagham Jalal is a finance and human resource officer with a Business Administration degree from the American University of Iraq-Sulymaniyah. She was very involved in university life, holding a job in a women’s dormitory and volunteering on the weekends. She has come to Dohuk from her home town of Bashiqa.


Interviewer and Translator


Samira Darweesh is an interviewer and translator in the documentation department. She graduated from the Obstetrics and Gynecology department of the Technical Institute, and spends her free time working as a midwife in Dohuk Women’s hospital.


IT Officer


Awad Ismael is an IT specialist. He graduated from the University of Mosul with a degree in computer engineering.  He previously worked as a representative for Medianet, and remains the sole person who can persuade the printer and copier to function.


General Assistant


Firas Haji Omer acts as both a translator and general assistant and holds a degree in Education. He founded the NGO Rainbow Group two years ago, beginning with informal teaching of refugee children.


Photographer and Filmmaker


Faris Mishko Faris is a photographer and filmmaker for Yazda. He has experience reporting and editing for television, and filming in Shingal. He previously worked at Rudaw Chanel.


Shivani Dutt has a background in hotel management. Now settled in Dohuk,  Shivani’s background in hotel management has enabled her to live and work all across the globe. She is working as general assistant at Yazda center.


Deputy Operation manager


Saido Khairy: Saido is holding a bachelor degree in education, he has been active in many NGOs and cultural centers before and after the ISIS attacks on Yazidi people.


Media and Human Rights officer


Talal Haskani is a social media activist and working as media manager at Yazda-Iraq. He hold a bachelor degree in pharmacy.


General Coordinator


Khalil Mecho Khalat is the general coordinator and Bitaqa manager. He currently lives in the Bersive camp, and is acting as the office manager.


Hanaa Barakat Naif is a wonderful cook. Originally from Shingal, she lives in the Sharya IDP Camp.

Shawkat Yousif Mato is a driver for Yazda. Originally from Shingal, he and his wife now live in Dohuk.


Sarmad  Zuhair Salim is a driver at Yazda and he is based in Dohuk.