Human Rights

The Yazidi community in northern Iraq suffers from high suicide rates

Iraq

The high rate of suicide amongst the Yazidi community living in IDP camps is largely as a result of poor living conditions and the trauma of ISIS.

For the fourth year running, 10,000 Yazidi people have been forced to live in internally displaced people (IDP) camps in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

For those living in IDP camps, poverty and a lack of basic services, as well as the camp’s tents that provide little protection against the nighttime cold, are all part of day-to-day life.

Although ISIS militants, who seized control of the Yazidi homeland of Sinjar in August 2014, have been territorially eliminated from the area, the slow pace of reconstruction in the region’s towns and villages, as well as ongoing safety and security concerns, mean that many can not yet return home.

Many of the women and girls who live in the IDP camps had previously been abducted and held captive by ISIS militants. The psychological trauma that many of the women and girls have endured, together with the poor living conditions in some IDP camps, has led to a rise in the suicide rate amongst the displaced Yazidi population.

According to the World Health Organisation, Iraq has one of the highest suicide rates in the entire MENA region, with the suicide rate amongst the Yazidi people being the highest in Iraq. In March alone, there were 8 suicides in the Yazidi community.

“[We have noticed] through the follow-up of our mobile teams that there has been an increase in suicides recently, especially in the camps,” said a representative for the Dak Organisation for Yazidi Women Development (DOEWD).

Civil society organisations are working in conjunction with the Yazidi community to help provide solutions to their ongoing problems, with a view to improving their lives and reducing the suicide rate. The DOEWD is a local civil society organisation working with all Yazidi women and girls to help resolve some of their problems, as well as to raise awareness of ongoing issues with the local authorities.

In addition, organisations are operating within IDP camps to provide the necessary psychological and medical support for women and girls who have been previously held captive by ISIS. Yahad In-Unum (“Together In One”) is one such organisation providing rehabilitation and treatment centres for Yazidi women and girls.