Yezidi official in KRG responsible for rescuing Yezidis awarded with Sergio Vieira De Mello Prize
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - Hussein al-Qaidi, director of the Office of Rescuing Kidnapped Yezidis for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), has been named the recipient of the Sergio Vieira De Mello Prize, which is awarded yearly in Poland to individuals and organizations which promote human rights and dialogue.
This is the seventeenth time that the award has been granted. It is named after Sergio Vieira De Mello, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights between 2002 and 2003.
The award presentation ceremony will be held on December 10 in an Online Gala, streamed live on Zoom, the Villa Decius Association.announced in a press statement.
Great news- Hussein Alqaidi,head of Kidnapped Yazidis Rescue Office was awarded "Sergio Vieira De Mello Prize" which is yearly awarded in #Poland to persons and NGOs supporting and protecting human rights. Award ceremony will be held December 10 @KRG_DFR https://t.co/WeF4Z8LR8Y pic.twitter.com/H4mBhS7eNJ— KRG Poland (@KrgPoland) November 16, 2020
Qaidi is a Yezidi, born in the Duhok province of Iraqi Kurdistan. In 2014, after ISIS overran the Yezidis’ homeland, he organized campaigns to find missing people, free them, and help then return to a normal life.
During his term as KRG Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani supported Qaida’s efforts and already in August 2014, he was named to lead a new unit: the Office of Rescuing Kidnapped Yezidis. It is based in Duhok, and Qaida remains its head, while his office is now funded by the President Office under Nechirvan Barzani.
Last November, Qaida received the prestigious Mother Teresa Memorial Award for rescuing thousands of Yezidi women from the clutches of the ISIS terrorists.
The KRG’s Yezidi Rescue Office has saved over 3,537 Yezidis, according to official data, out of the 6,417 people whom ISIS kidnapped. Some 2,880 remain missing.
The sudden emergence of ISIS and its violent assault on Sinjar led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Yezidis and a genocide against the Yezidi community.
“The ISIS genocide against Yezidis included the kidnapping and mass rape of Yezidi women and the brainwashing and indoctrination of Yezidi children. Since many remain missing, we Yezidis say the genocide is in some ways ongoing,” Pari Ibrahim, Founder and Executive Director of the Free Yezidi Foundation, told Kurdistan 24.
“That is why every rescue and every individual brought home is important. Every person who put forth serious effort to bring home captive Yezidis has done valuable humanitarian work. Many of the missing remain unaccounted for, and we must all continue the effort,” she added.
The KRG Representative in Poland, Ziyad Raoof, told Kurdistan 24 that the prize is “an expression of attention to and care about the fate of Yezidis by Poland. The committee that decided the prize included: representatives of the President of Poland, the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil’s ambassador to Poland, the Swedish ambassador, and many NGOs.”
While hailing the award to Qaida, Raoof noted that it is not the first time that people or organizations operating in the region have been similarly honored.
“Three years ago, the Barzani Charity Foundation received this award, and other laureates include the Iraqi human rights activist Hanaa Edwar, the UN representative to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, and Bernard Kouchner,” he added.
Raoof hopes that the award will put Yezidis in the spotlight again in Poland, since previous awards were widely reported in the Polish media.
“I believe that it will once again make Polish people aware of the difficult fate of Yezidis and also show that there are still many people and organizations helping Yezidi people with great courage and commitment, ”he continued.
Raoof also stressed that during his term as KRG Prime Minister, Nechirvan Barzani supported the rescue office. “He made an effort to draw the attention of the international community to the fate of Yezidis, and currently, as President of Kurdistan Region, he is continuing those efforts.”
Editing by Laurie Mylroie