Yezidi refugee on Mount Shingal.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Baghdad has not allocated a “single dinar” for the reconstruction of Yezidi areas ravaged by the war with ISIS, said a Yezidi lawmaker, slamming the government for a multitude of failures with respect to the country’s persecuted minority.
On the occasion of Eida Rojiet Ezi, a Yezidi festival that follows three days of fasting, MP Vian Dakhil said, “When the catastrophes happened in Shingal, the Iraqi parliament issued several resolutions, one of which designated Shingal a war-ruined zone and thus needs reconstruction. It also named ISIS’ mass killings and kidnappings as genocide. But the Iraqi government does not do anything for them.”
According to Dakhil, Iraq has not allocated "a single dinar in its 2018 budget bill for Shingal.”
In last year’s budget, a section was passed that dedicated a small fund to help Yezidis being rescued from ISIS, but that section was abolished by the government through a court decision, Dakhil said.
She also criticized Baghdad for failing to develop any plan to help displaced Yezidis return to their homes and for preventing international investigations into crimes committed against the community.
Half of the 6,417 Yezidis abducted by ISIS in August 2014 are still being held captive or their fates remain unknown, according to the latest data released by the KRG’s ministry of religious affairs.
Some 350,000 people were displaced from the Shingal area when ISIS militants overran northern Iraq and committed genocide against the Yezidi community. Some have returned in small numbers to Shingal and Bashiqa, northeast of Mosul. They are in need of essential services like health care, water, electricity, and education, but face difficulties because roads between these regions and the KRG have been closed since Iraqi forces took control of the disputed areas in mid-October.
Tens of thousands have also emigrated abroad.
The international flight ban imposed by Baghdad on the Kurdistan Region amid deteriorating relations between the central and regional governments has also caused problems for Yezidis.
According to Dakhil, some aid that used to be brought in through the Erbil and Sulaimani airports has stopped.
The multiple armed groups operating in the Shingal region is another hurdle for returning normalcy to the area.
Dakhil reported that recently some Arabs from villages around Shingal, operating under the Hashd al-Shaabi, were alleging “Yezidis were ISIS.”
“This is something very, very bad. Therefore we sent [a letter] to the Iraqi prime minister that we do not accept that,” Dakhil said. She claimed that the Arab villagers had in fact participated in killing and kidnapping Yezidis when ISIS took over.
Shingal mayor Mahma Khalil signaled alarm over the demographics of the area, alleging that Arabization of Shingal under the Hashd al-Shaabi is taking place.
He was also concerned that Arab families who had fled during fighting between Iraqi armed forces and ISIS were now returning without being questioned for possible affiliation with the extremist group.
He said that before the Peshmerga withdrew and Iraqi and Hashd forces took over in mid-October, some 20,000 Yezidis were living in Shingal and the surrounding area, but that number has now decreased to 13,000.