ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A delegation of Yezidi (Ezidi) and Christian survivors from the autonomous Kurdistan Region and Iraq participated in a two-week post-trauma course in Israel, addressing the horrific trauma and abuses they suffered at the hands of the Islamic State.
The delegation of about 15 members, most of whom were Ezidis, arrived in Israel late June with the help of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, and were guest of the Bar-Ilan University and the IsraAid humanitarian organization for two weeks, the ministry said on Sunday on its official social media accounts.
Bar-Ilan University has devoted four years of research on the issue of the Ezidi genocide and other topics to help survivors overcome challenges of reintegration and mentail health.
The arrival of the delegation to the Jewish state surprised many as such visits are highly uncommon since Iraq is formally at war with Israel and is a member of the Arab League, which boycotts Israel. The country has prohibited its passport holders from traveling to Israel.
Iraq and Israel hold no diplomatic, socio-cultural, or economic relations.
Dr. Mirza Dinnayi, a Ezidi doctor and social activist who accompanied the delegation and lives in Germany, is conducting several projects to help the women and children who survived Islamic State captivity.
“The whole issue of psychological treatment is very uncommon in Iraq, like in other Arab countries. There’s roughly one psychologist or social worker for every 300,000 people in Iraq. Therefore, we have to use what we have,” Dinnayi told Haaretz.
The survivors traveled from Germany, where they currently live and are part of a special rehabilitation program for 1,100 women and children who survived the terrorist group’s horrors.
The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and its violent assault on 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 women and girls 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 Kurdistan Region’s Ezidi Rescue Office.
According to official numbers from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the number of Ezidis freed from the Islamic State since 2014 has reached over 3,300, but some 6,284 Ezidis were kidnapped, among them 3,467 women and 2,717 men.
Editing by Nadia Riva