Assistance to Yazidi Victims of ISIS01. Februar 2016, von Arvid Vormann
Mobile Female Led Intervention Teams Provide Assistance to Yazidi IDPs in Northern Iraq who Escaped Islamic State Terror.
From September 2014 to December 2015, 4008 Yazidis were supported. 491 women and girls who escaped or were freed from ISIS received special medical and psychosocial care. 115 cases of girls who survived ISIS slavery were documented and introduced to local and international media in order to bring attention to these crimes and recognize them internationally.
The Islamic State (ISIS) takeover of Mosul and adjacent areas, including the Yazidi heartland of Sinjar, has led to a large number of internally displaced Yazidis moving into the Dohuk governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan, adding yet another dimension to a humanitarian disaster unparalleled in the modern history of Iraq.
More than 5,000 girls and women were captured by ISIS and, according to first hand reports, systematically raped and physically abused nearly to the point of death. The women and girls that return are in dire need of various types of assistance – the physical consequences of sexual abuse include unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other physical issues, not to mention the grave and far-reaching mental traumata inflicted upon these women. Conservative social norms in the affected community are occasionally complicating the situation.
While many organizations are offering aid in the way of food, medicine and accommodation, WADI’s mobile Dohuk teams, supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), are providing help of a different kind.
WADI’s Mobile Yazidi Teams
WADI has three mobile teams operating in the area, each consisting of two women. One of them is Yazidi which facilitates trust-building with the Yazidi community.The concept of the mobile teams is based on the idea of going to where the women are rather than taking them out of their living environment. WADI has more than 10 years of experience with this approach.
The mobile teams offer psychosocial help in various refugee camps and other locations where Yazidi refugees live. Team members speak with the female survivors of ISIS terror and women and girls who have returned from ISIS custody, in group and seperately. They listen patiently to the horrible stories and lend them a shoulder when needed. Most of these girls are severely traumatized, both physically and mentally.
Help of various kinds is provided, a trustful relationship is established. Phone numbers are exchanged. The team members play an important role as outsiders (i.e. people outside the family) who can be trusted and relied on. They make sure they care and will come back regularly for follow-up.
At the same time they gather individual stories and other data on the current plight of the Yazidis.
In addition to psychosocial assistance, the teams raise awareness on health issues and provide hygienic items to the women – an extremely important, but often forgotten part of the relief effort as, unfortunately, women’s basic needs tend to be neglected in emergency situations.
Additionally, the teams are in close contact with local authorities and other organizations in order to coordinate further help, for example providing medicine or arranging transport to hospitals for the sick.
Data collected and experience made by the teams led to the idea of a center for traumatized Yazidi girls. This center finally became reality in July 2015 under the name “Jinda Center”. So far, the center has welcomed hundreds of girls.
Apart from their work in the camps, the teams are also facilitating food distributions and basic support to 112 families (around 500 people) living in a number of shell buidings in the outskirts of Duhok. All aid supplies are funded by WADI private donations and with Khalsa Aid support.
The number of the IDPs who sought refuge in Dohuk reached half a million which is almost equal to the original population of the province. This created economic tensions and led to a deteriorating security situation. In the last three months however, living conditions of the IDPs in the province witnessed some improvement. 16 IDP camps have been set up. UN and international organizations and NGOs offer services in coordination with the local authorities.
Moreover, in November – December 2016 the Kurdish Peshmerga fighter forces managed to expel Daesh from many places they had occupied previously, which gave the people a feeling of safety and stability. As a result the medical services and relief offered to the IDPs improved as well. Health centers were established in the camps and the areas liberated by the Peshmargas.
The continued shelling of Daesh bases by coalition air fighters had a positive psychological impact on the Kurdistan Region in general and Dohuk province in particular as well.
When the IDPs started seeking refuge in the province, real estate prices dropped and the demand decreased. Consequently the rents dropped as well.
Additionally, the KRG entered a period of economic recession and the public service employees did not receive salaries for many months. This led to the exacerbation of the crisis. The large increase in labor force and widespread unemployment after most projects came to a halt paralyzed the economy of the province on all levels.
The number of IDPs is not clearly determined, yet. An estimated 20% are located in remote areas. Some of them do not settle in one place. They keep moving in search for jobs and better shelters.
Among the camp dwellers in winter there is always the fear of contagious diseases and epidemics. Currently flue is widespread due to a lack of heatings, warm water and medicine. The medicine available is expensive, particularly the treatments needed for chronic diseases and by vulnerable patients. The meals are merely consisting of rice and legumes which on the long run leads to malnutrition. Moreover, 40% of the IDPs do not have access to clean drinking water. As a result, there are cases of diarrhea, smallpox and other children diseases.
Living conditions for children an youths are dire. Everyday life in the camps is tedious and boring. Young people do not have any place to meet, and children have never seen a playground.
Main Shortcomings and Constraints Found by the Mobile Teams:
– high medicine prices
– limited access to potable water
– no schools until now
– tents are made of inflammable material
– fires caused by electrical short circuits
– rain is flooding the camps
– no fuel (kerosene) distributed
– general state of horror and scare from frequent fires, thunderstorms and strong winds
– no justice in aid distribution
– some IDPs are registered in more than one camp and they receive aid in several places
– no security forces in the camps; Khanke camp for example is not guarded by police
– no regular bakeries in the camps
– carcinogens and poisonous gas generated from plastic burnt by many inhabitants
– IDPs do not receive any pocket money to meet their personal needs
– problems in the family due to lack of diversion and entertainment
Services in Detail
Report period September 2014 to December 2015
– 6 team members/3 psychosocial teams, funded by BMZ
– 1 team of psychologists, funded by Heartland Alliance
The teams work in the camps of Khankee‘, Rwanga, Kabarto1, Kabarto2, Sharya and Ba’edree‘ in addition to the shell constructions in and outside the center of Dohuk where IDPs dwell.
The IDPs receive medical services and aid, personal accessories like clothes, sheets, kitchen equipments, children milk and diapers, psychological consultancy and transportation of some to the psychiatric treatment centers.
The teams also co-ordinate with the organizations and public departments to arrange official papers and personal documents and identities, as far as financial and human resources allow.
The team work is focusing very much on girls and women who escaped ISIS or returned to Duhok on whatever way. So far 491 cases have been seen and supported. With explicit permission by the victims the teams were able to document 115 stories.
1. Epicenter of Early Diagnosis of Disability for Children
2. Yazidis Initiative Across the World in the medical field (MDM)
4. Chian Center for Psychological Consultancy
5. The KRG PM’s branch office to equip the IDPs with Food
6. The KRG PM’s Office for the follow-up of female survivors affairs
7. Security Agencies to resolve problems that occur
8. Hevy Hospital for Children
9. Azadi Hospital, Psychiatric Dept.
10. ZICO for Wheelchairs
11. Dept. of Non-violence against Women to document the genocide against the abducted women
12. Ministry of Martyrs and Anfal in the KRG
13. Ministry of Displacement in the Federal Iraq Government
14. Social Welfare Dept
15. SCF – Save the Children Fund
16. ACTED NGO
17. Yazda local NGO
19. DRC- International NGO
20. WARVIN- local NGO
21. UPP – international NGO
22. Islamic Association – semi international
23. Haricar – local NGO
24. ICF-international NGO
25. Barzan Rekief Establishment
26. Rwanga – local NGO
27. GIZ – international NGO
28. Nozhin-women affairs and awareness
29. Asuda – cash money to survivors.
30. Genocide Court-to document and support the survivors
31. Duhok DOH-Directorate of Health
32. Ba’edree‘ sub-district mayor’s office dept. for survivors in Asia camp
33. Government Dept. in Sharya camp, Security, the Lalish Center