Yezidi women remain missing 8 years after Yezidi genocide

Members of the Yezidi (Ezidi) community flee ISIS' 2014 attack on the disputed district of Sinjar (Shingal), Aug. 14, 2014 (Photo: UNICEF)
Members of the Yezidi (Ezidi) community flee ISIS' 2014 attack on the disputed district of Sinjar (Shingal), Aug. 14, 2014 (Photo: UNICEF)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Thousands of Yezidi women remain missing eight years after ISIS's genocide against the Yezidis of Sinjar, a Yezidi organization said on Sunday.

On Aug. 3, 2014, ISIS launched its genocide against the Yezidis, killing men, enslaving women, and displacing thousands to the Kurdistan Region. 

Many survivors were later found in Syria's notorious al-Hol camp, which hosts thousands of families with suspected ISIS links.

Read More: Kurdistan Region announces rescue of Yezidi girl from Syria's al-Hol camp

Several events in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region will be held to mark the eighth anniversary of the genocide on Wednesday.

"More than 2,700 Yezidis remain missing eight years after the Yezidi Genocide. As this agonizing fact lingers, it has tragically become normalized in our community," the Free Yezidi Foundation (FYF) said in a statement.

"We know that a significant number of the missing were killed by ISIS in captivity. But we also know that many are still alive, most likely located in Syria, Turkey, or Iraq – the countries where ISIS members can operate most comfortably," the statement added.

The Yezidi foundation said there needs to be a realistic plan "to identify and rescue the missing." 

Last year, 80 organizations and experts urged the international community to do more to rescue the missing women.

Another challenge is that many of these women have had children conceived through ISIS rape. It has been difficult for the Yezidi community to reintegrate these women and their children into society.

"Efforts must be made for this highly vulnerable and traumatized group of women and girls to escape from ISIS territory and resettle in safety and security," the Yezidi Foundation said.

Pari Ibrahim, the Founder and Executive Director of the Free Yezidi Foundation (FYF), told Kurdistan 24 that the remaining missing Yezdi women cause great pain to family members and the Yezidi community as a whole.

"Even though we know they are not all alive, many are. Even if they have children born of rape, we are 100% committed to helping them leave ISIS captivity and find a better life somewhere else. Eight years of enforced enslavement is abhorrent, and we cannot accept it," she said.

Last year, a joint statement released by 18 foreign countries, most of them European, underlined how terrible it is that so many Yezidi women and children remain missing.

Read More: Yezidis welcome statement of 'great concern' by 18 nations on missing captives

"Those signing this statement are willing to work with governments, international organizations, and Yezidis around the world to assist Yezidis displaced or abducted by ISIS/Daesh and to advocate for their agency," the statement concluded.