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Yazda office in Iraq shut down by Kurdish officials

By WITW Staff on January 9, 2017

An Iraqi office of Yazda, the non-governmental organization that supports the Yazidi religious minority was shut down last week by officials from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Yazda staff found their office in Dohuk (a city in the Kurdish region of Iraq) shut down, with Kurdish authorities having placed locks on the doors and claiming they closed up the organization for “not abiding by the KRG rules” for NGOs and conducting political activities. In an official statement, Yazda strongly denied the allegations, claiming the group has abided by all rules and is not a political organization, but one “that advocates for the human rights of Yazidis all around the world” and has been “established to prevent future genocides after Yazidi Genocide committed by ISIL.”

One person close to the organization told Human Rights Watch that he believed the decision might be related to Yazda’s plan to help out 3,000 families with livelihood support in Sinjar, while the KRG has placed severe restriction on goods going in and out of that city, out of apparent concerns that it would end up with an armed Kurdish group, the Kurdistan worker’s party.  The decision to shut down the office, however, can have dramatic consequences as the organization provides essential help to the Yazidis in northern Iraq, who have suffered greatly at the hands of ISIS.

“Over the past two years, Yazda has provided support through numerous special programs to survivors of genocide and to the general displaced Yazidi population, in the aftermath of August 3, 2014,” their official statement reads, listing projects such as  a program supporting the mental and emotional health of traumatized Yazidi women who escaped captivity; a case management program that has contributed to the financial survival of more than 600 rescued women and children and a primary health care center that brings medical services and medicine to a camp of 14,500 displaced Yazidis, among many other things.  The organization has also advocated internationally to bring the perpetrators of the genocide against the Yezidis to justice and strongly supported the work of U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Nadia Murad, a young Yazidi woman who was trafficked by the terrorist group. Thousands of Yazidi women and men are still being held by ISIS in Mosul, and when they are able to escape it is key to have organizations like Yazda in place to offer psychosocial and other support.

Read the full story at Human Rights Watch.


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