ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – On Wednesday, 132 members of the Yezidi (Ezidi) community left the autonomous Kurdistan Region’s Erbil International Airport (EIA) for Toulouse, France, as part of the Humanitarian Admissions Programme launched by French President Emmanuel Macron.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) assisted the resettlement efforts.
The project was introduced by Macron with the support of 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad, who is an Islamic State survivor and has advocated for Ezidi victims worldwide.
The initiative was the subject of a signing ceremony between IOM and the French Government, attended by Murad, two weeks ago in Paris.
“Today, we have come to see you off on your new journey to France,” Dominique Mas, French Consul General in Erbil, told the Ezidi families as they boarded the aircraft.
“In France, you will receive protection, security, education, as well as medical and social support,” he continued.
The resettlement of the 28 Ezidi families in France comes five years after the Islamic State swept through Sinjar (Shingal), home to most of the Ezidi community in Iraq. Since the 2014 onslaught, a significant portion of the community remains displaced, including hundreds of families who fled and were stranded on Mount Shingal during the attack.
“We are grateful for the French government’s support to this vulnerable group of Yazidis [Ezidis], some of whom have gone through a terrible ordeal,” said Gerard Waite, IOM Iraq’s Chief of Mission. “IOM Iraq continues to assist all displaced Iraqi citizens, including Yazidis, both in areas of displacement as well as in their hometowns, to facilitate their sustainable reintegration.”
Prior to their departure, IOM assisted the families with transportation from Duhok to Erbil, accommodation in Erbil and medical checkups. The teams also organized cultural orientation sessions and facilitated their travel to France.
“As this group of Yazidi families touch down in Toulouse and surrounding areas, local nongovernmental organizations are ready to assist them to facilitate their integration in the host communities,” said Ambassador Eric Chevallier, Director of the French Crisis Center, before boarding the plane alongside the families.
According to official numbers from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the number of Ezidis freed from the terrorist group 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