Iraq News

3,524 Yazidis rescued from ISIS to date

By Khalid al-Taie


A Yazidi family reunites with one of its members who was freed from ISIS in Syria on March 2nd. [Photo courtesy of Hussein al-Qaidi, director of the Office for Yazidi Abductees Affairs]

Iraq's Directorate of Yazidi Affairs on Wednesday (November 27th) announced that more than 3,500 Yazidis have been rescued to date from the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).

"A total of 3,524 Yazidis have been rescued from the terrorist group since it overran the town of Sinjar on August 3rd, 2014," said Khairi Bouzani, general director for Yazidi affairs in the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs.

Most of them have been freed from captivity, whether in Iraq or Syria, through strenuous efforts by the Office for Yazidi Abductee Affairs and other relevant authorities in the Kurdish region, he told Diyaruna.

The majority of the survivors are women and children, he said, including 1,197 women and 1,988 children.

Bouzani said that 6,417 Yazidis disappeared after ISIS invaded Sinjar, having been abducted by the extremists and trafficked on a large-scale.

The fate of many of the remaining 2,893 abductees remains unknown, he said.

Reports point to the presence of a number of Yazidi women and their children in Syria's al-Hol camp, he said, which currently houses thousands of members of ISIS families who lived in the Syrian area of al-Baghouz before it was liberated in March.

Other abductees have likely been sold by ISIS fighters and moved between different areas, he said, noting that they are now probably being held in Syria, Turkey and even Iraq.

The UN said Tuesday it has identified 160 ISIS elements accused of killing Yazidis in Iraq in 2014 and is preparing for future prosecution cases against them.

The UN investigation team, which was formed by the UN Security Council last year, has been collecting evidence to conduct trials of ISIS elements who may have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide, said the leader of the UN special probe into ISIS crimes Karim Khan.

Government support

"All [Yazidis] we release and rescue are in very poor physical and mental condition," Bouzani said. "We deliver them to their families or relatives in the camps and follow up on their conditions and needs."

The Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displacement has provided financial grants to 1,000 female survivors in the amount of two million Iraqi dinars ($1,680) each, he said, adding that more survivors continue to be added to the grant programme.

"We recently held meetings with representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Iraqi Human Rights Commission, who promised to allocate fixed monthly wages to all male and female Yazidi survivors," said Bouzani.

They also will be entered into rehabilitation and social welfare programmes, he said.

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