Many Yazidis in Iraq were left with no choice but to pay for the release of their family and friends in ISIS' captivity. One survivor, Khetam Ghanem, is now working to earn a new living whilst continuing the search for her two brothers.
With both Iraq and Syria liberated from ISIS’ military control, the victims of ISIS continue to struggle due to lack of organised support. Khetam Ghanem, a young Yazidi woman who survived being captured by ISIS, says that other women like her need a lot of support to recover from the trauma inflicted upon them by the militant group. Part of this process, according to Khetam, is finding organisations that can provide them with the means to find work and be able to provide for them and their families.
“All survivors need support. When the survivor pays for her freedom and returns to her home, no one supports or helps her,” said Khetam.
Upon discovering the whereabouts of Khetam and her sister-in-law, her family was forced to borrow money, and pay for the two women’s freedom from ISIS’ grip. “A year and two months ago, my sister-in-law and I paid the price of our freedom, but no one supported us to return the money that we borrowed,” she said. In order to repay that money, Khetam chose to open a small convenient store in the displacement camp to make enough money and develop her skills.
This micro-financing project that Khetam is part of is a recent initiative launched by civil society organisations and NGOs who have been attempting to support Yazidi survivors move on from their horrific past. By providing these women with opportunities to start small businesses in the displacement camps, they are giving these survivors the tools to improve their skills and educations so that they can eventually return to their villages and cities. “It’s a simple gesture – donors are helping women with no provider. The most important solution for this suffering to end is to return them to their areas,” said Jiman Rasheed, the director of the Jinda Humanitarian Organisation in Duhok. “Moreover, their areas should be safe, and services should return to them so that these survivors can return to their families.”
In addition to these projects launched by the NGOs, international and local organisations are also attempting to provide these survivors with psychological rehabilitation to help them get past the wounds that ISIS has left on their minds.
While firmer and more proactive solutions are needed to rehabilitate Yazidi survivors, these attempts by local organisations are crucial to help women slowly move past the horrors that they have witnessed.