ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service (IND) has rejected asylum cases for Yezidis (Ezidis) and is sending them back to refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region because it believes they have sufficient access to food and shelter there, Dutch media reported on Saturday.
Asylum lawyers have argued that sending Ezidis back to camps in the Kurdistan Region is a violation of the Dutch government’s policy on the forcible return of vulnerable groups.
However, the Dutch immigration service circumvents these rules by claiming the Ezidis have lived safely for an extended period at the refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region and are not considered a vulnerable group.
“There is no specific policy for Ezidis who have stayed in refugee camps for a long time in the [Kurdistan Region], and there is no policy change,” the IND was quoted as saying by Dutch newspaper Trouw.
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, now recognized by the United Nations as an act of genocide.
Most of them fled to the Kurdistan Region, while others resettled in neighboring countries or Western states.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), meanwhile, said it had “serious concerns” about the Dutch policy as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is already dealing with over one million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees from Syria and Iraq with limited support.
According to the UNHCR, the situation in the camps is dire; there is poverty, and often not enough support for the traumatized Ezidis.
Much like the UNHCR, the Dutch Council for Refugees says the KRG can no longer handle the massive amounts of refugees and displaced persons.
Dutch courts have ruled differently in such cases. In March, a court in The Hague ruled that an Ezidi boy who lived in a camp for two years should return to the Kurdistan Region while a court in Arnhem in the same month ruled that an Ezidi who fled from the Kurdistan Region to Holland was not allowed to be sent back.
Pari Ibrahim, the founder and Executive Director of the Free Yezidi Foundation (FYF), expressed grave concerns over the Dutch policy.
“We are very concerned about the Ezidis in Iraq,” she told Kurdistan 24. “We do not think European immigration authorities should be rejecting Ezidi asylum cases.”
“Survivors of a genocide have special and unique needs that should be recognized.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany