ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Yezidi (Ezidi) children who were rescued from the so-called Islamic State are being given an opportunity to put their hardships behind them and enjoy their youth.
A Belgian architecture company, DMOA architects, in coordination with its non-profit department, the Maggie Program, is building a multi-purpose center for children at the Shariya camp in the Kurdistan Region’s Duhok province.
Benjamin Denef, development and technical support at Maggie, said they hope the children can benefit from the center and forget the memories of genocide and war.
“We are here to launch a project and help those children who have suffered under ISIS,” he told Kurdistan 24. “Our center will include many places where children can play and pass their time.”
The Maggie Program builds temporary shelters to address the needs of displaced persons affected by war and conflict. Their innovative tents are sturdy, highly-insulated, and made to withstand all climates.
About 350 children will be able to stay in the shelter, 60 of them are Ezidis who had been rescued from the Islamic State.
“This is a very good project for the children,” Zena Nev, a young woman rescued from the Islamic State, told Kurdistan 24.
“They will be able to pass their time and forget their hardships. If they are home, they will suffer psychological problems,” she added.
Nev recalled her own experiences with her two brothers who she said were becoming restless indoors.
“We registered our names at this shelter because we believe it is a place where we can spend our time,” she explained.
Another young Ezidi boy at the camp called on other organization who are capable “to build centers like this for Ezidi children so they can forget their woes.”
“Many of these children don’t have the same memories they had in the past, but with the help of these centers, maybe they will be able to reintegrate into society,” he said.
The emergence of the Islamic State and its violent assault on Iraq’s Ezidi-majority city of Sinjar (Shingal) in August 2014 led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of members of the Ezidi community and the killing of thousands.
According to the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ezidi Rescue Office, 1,759 children are without fathers, 407 without mothers, 359 are orphans, and the parents of 220 children remain in Islamic State custody.
(Additional reporting by Maha Shingali)