Migration

26 Yazidi women and children return to Sinjar after 5 years of abduction

Iraq

26 Yazidi women and children were handed over to the Yazidi Council in Sinjar district after they were kidnapped by ISIS over five years ago. During ISIS’ invasion of Iraq, the Yazidis constituted a primary target for the militants who kidnapped thousands of their women and children.

The defeat of ISIS in Syria in March 2019 has allowed for hundreds of Yazidi women and children to be released from the militant group’s grip and returned to their homes in Iraq. The latest group of Yazidis that have been handed by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to the Iraqi authorities included 26 Yazidi women and children that were kidnapped when ISIS occupied the city of Sinjar five years ago.

The women and children that were freed from ISIS’ control during the operations to liberate the city of Baghouz say that the militant group forced its ideology upon them, and abused them at every given chance.

“We were in our village, and then they drove us out and separated us from the men,” said Dawood, a Yazidi child who was kidnapped and trained by ISIS. “Then they took us to the Tal Afar School where we stayed for several months and then they took us to another village.”

According to the head of the Yazidi House in Hasakah, who was responsible for these women and children’s transfer to Iraq, Dawood’s case is a fortunate one, because he made it out of ISIS territory alive and is currently being supported by society.

According to local activists, over 3,000 Yazidis continue to remain unaccounted for, as their fate remains hidden. Whether these missing members are dead or alive remains a mystery to many.

While many Yazidi children who were kidnapped by ISIS faced grave injustices under the militant group, these children are currently able to receive psychological rehabilitation and are then reintegrated into society. However, in a recent statement by the Yazidi Supreme Spiritual Council, children who were born to Yazidi women from ISIS fathers, even in cases of rape are not welcome back into society. This has stirred controversy amongst Yazidi officials and activists who say that these children and their mothers must be taken back into society so that life can regain some normalcy.

With the situation currently unclear regarding Yazidi children’s futures, the Iraqi Government and international authorities must take the appropriate steps to care for these children and rehabilitate them as they are the future of Iraq.