ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi government will begin its delivery of financial grants to female Yezidi (Ezidi) survivors who suffered at the hands of the so-called Islamic State, the country’s immigration minister said on Thursday.
During a press conference on Thursday, Iraq’s Minister for Displacement and Migration Nofal Mousa announced the start of a program called the “Yezidi Survivors’ Grant” which provides each survivor with two million Iraqi dinars, equivalent to about USD 1,600.
Hussein Qaidi, a member of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Ezidi Rescue Office, told Kurdistan 24 on Thursday that the decision was implemented after several meetings between Kurdish and Iraqi delegations.
The meetings led to a bill called the “Compensation of Yezidi Survivors” being sent to the House of Representatives at the Iraqi Parliament who then voted to approve it.
“This is a good step in the right direction by the Iraqi government,” Qaidi told Kurdistan 24. “Although it is late, we are still happy that the grant program has begun.”
He added that the first batch of survivors, numbering at 899 women, will receive their grants first and will be followed by the dispersal of payments to two additional groups of women at a later time.
At the press conference, 100 female Ezidi survivors were present with their families to receive their grants.
According to Qaidi, 3,451 Ezidis had been rescued to date while about 2,900 others remain missing.
The emergence of the Islamic State and its violent assault on Sinjar (Shingal) in 2014 led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Ezidis. Most of them fled to the Kurdistan Region, while others resettled in neighboring countries in the region or Western states.
Others were not as lucky and remained stranded in the war zone, where they experienced atrocities and mass executions at the hands of the extremist group for years. Militants subjected women and girls to sexual slavery, kidnapped children, forced religious conversions, executed scores of men, and abused, sold, and trafficked females across areas they controlled in Iraq and Syria.
Before the 2014 attack, there were roughly 550,000 Ezidis in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. As the militants took over large swaths of territory in Nineveh province, 360,000 Ezidis escaped and found refuge elsewhere, according to the KRG’s Ezidi Rescue Office.
So far, over 69 mass graves which contain the remains of Ezidis have been excavated along with untold numbers of individual graves.
Kurdish and Ezidi Peshmerga forces, with the support of the US-led coalition, liberated Shingal from the Islamic State in November 2015. However, the town remains virtually vacant with little to no basic services available.
Editing by John J. Catherine