Remembering the Yazidi Genocide in Sinjar

03 August 2018

A children's class in session at the JRS center in Kasnazan, Irak (Jesuit Refugee Service)

Four years after the genocide of Yazidi people in the Sinjar/Shingal district of northern Iraq, hundreds of thousands of Yazidis are still displaced in camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. An estimated 100,000 fled to neighboring countries and beyond in search of safety and a new beginning, while as many as 3,000 abducted Yazidis are still missing.

More than 4,000 Yazidi families (26,000+ persons) are displaced in harsh living conditions in and around the town of Shariya, in the Semeel district of the Duhok governorate. Their lives are far from being normal. For the past four years, children have been unable to smile. Countless women who had been abducted, sexually abused, sold, and resold many times over saw their children taken away from them to be turned into child soldiers or sex-slaves. Forced conversions, missing family members, the attempted eradication of their ethno-religious identity, untold physical hardship, and the consequences of individual and collective trauma have inflicted deep scars that will take decades to heal and will affect future generations. Among survivors, PTSD, acute depression, suicidal ideation, and loss of hope are common.

“The international community cannot remain a silent and unresponsive spectator in the face of your tragedy,” said Pope Francis while addressing representatives of the Yazidi community exiled in Germany, on 24 January 2018.

The displaced Yazidi people of Shariya call upon all the international community, relevant governments, and all persons of good will:

  1. To preserve the historical memory of the Yazidi genocide and protect all genocide survivors who are enduring its lasting effects.
  2. To offer support to the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to bring back all abductees to their families.
  3. To help rebuild social cohesion that was torn apart by the violence perpetrated by ISIS and to actively promote reconciliation.
  4. To safeguard and uphold the rights of Yazidis as a minority and to respect their identity.
  5. To embark on a consolidated effort to eradicate hatred.

Considering that the conditions for a safe, voluntary, and dignified return to their homeland are not yet met, they call upon the European Union and other western governments to accelerate asylum procedures for Yazidi genocide survivors, with special regard for family reunification.