Demanding proper compensation to return home

Yazidis protest in Duhok camp against Iraqi government decision

ZAKHO – Dozens of IDPs from the Yazidi-populated Jem Mishko camp in northern Duhok province staged a protest against the Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displaced policies, decrying the inadequacy of the four million dinars (around $3,000) grant allocated for the restoration of their homes ravaged during the 2014 ISIS assaults on Sinjar. Protesters, brandishing banners denouncing the politicization of displacement issues, demanded the implementation of the Sinjar agreement and the reinstatement of local administration in the district.

Zidan Sabri, a protester, underscored the grant’s insufficiency in fully restoring homes razed during the ISIS onslaught.

“Most families are suffering from poverty, with some still lacking proper shelter as their homes were destroyed. We wish to return, but authorities must provide the necessary support to end our suffering and enable us to live with dignity in our areas,” Sabri said.

Many families, Sabri noted, have endured years in tents, with their children marrying under such dire conditions and facing the prospect of continued tent dwelling.

Khidr Abdullah, echoing Sabri’s sentiments, demanded increased financial assistance and the establishment of an enabling environment conducive to their return to Sinjar. “We hope to secure a new life free from the worries and hardships we endured in the camps over the past years, and we need actual compensation. We require tangible compensation,” Abdullah asserted.

Sinjar, in western Nineveh province, was predominantly inhabited by Yazidis before the ISIS assault on the community in the summer of 2014. Yazidis adhere to an ancient non-Islamic Mesopotamian faith.

The Ministry of Migration and Displaced announced on March 17 a deadline for discontinuing support to IDP camps and terminating the four million dinars return grant. Ali Abbas, spokesperson for the Ministry, informed the Iraqi News Agency (INA) that support for IDP camps will cease after July 30, shifting focus towards aiding returning families. The grants will be phased out following this deadline.

Amidst the aftermath of ISIS’s brutal attacks, the Yazidi community grapples with the enduring repercussions of genocide, displacement, and myriad hardships into 2024. Over 5000 Yazidis lost their lives at the hands of ISIS, with approximately 360,000 displaced within Iraq, and over 100,000 forced to flee the country altogether.

According to the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration (IOM), ISIS decimated up to 80 percent of public infrastructure and 70 percent of civilian homes in Sinjar and its environs.

Despite Yazidis beginning to trickle back to their ancestral lands post-ISIS, the recovery process is stymied by the volatile situation in Sinjar, compounded by local and regional disputes over the area’s fate.

These disputes raise concerns among residents about potential conflicts, hindering the full return of the Yazidi population and the complete reconstruction of their devastated communities.