On 3 July EUAM Iraq Head of Mission Dr. Markus Ritter visited Lalish, a small mountain village situated in the Duhok Governorate in Kurdistan region of Iraq. He met with the representative and spiritual leader of the Yazidi minority, Baba Chawesh and son of the deceased Yazidi prince Osmat Tahseen Bek.
The holiest temple in the Yazidi faith is located in Lalish. Yazidis are expected to make a pilgrimage to the site at least once in their lifetime.
Around 5000 Yazidis were killed in 2014 when Isis fighters invaded the area of Mount Sinjar, the ancestral homeland of Yazidis close to the border of Syria. 10 000 people were kidnapped, most of them children and taken to Syria. Yazidi women were sold or given as sex slaves to Islamic State fighters. Isis is recognized by the United Nations as the perpetrator of a genocide of Yazidis in Iraq.
According to Baba Chawesh 3600 Yazidis are still missing and 500 Yazidi families live in displacement camps across Kurdistan.
- People are suffering in the camps and living conditions are bad. They are not able to return to their villages due to poor security situation. We need the Iraqi army or around 6000-7000 Yazidi policemen to secure the area before people can return and feel safe.
Yazidis rely on farming as the main source of income. Isis burned and destroyed many of the crops and trees of the Yazidis which makes it even harder for people to return to their homes.
Many Yazidi refugees have ended up in Armenia, Georgia and Russia. About 150,000 live in Germany - the largest community of Yazidis in exile.
EUAM Iraq continues to support ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq as part of the Mission's civil society strategy.