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YAZIDI SUPPORT PROGRAM (2)

Since July 2021, UHfR has become closely connected with a forcibly displaced Yazidi community needing support to live a more dignified life. In collaboration with a community representative, we have developed a strategy to improve the living conditions of this particular community that is marginalised and exposed to many risks and insecurities.

 

Over recent years, UHfR has developed a strong working relationship with a displaced Yazidi community. We have worked to build close connections with leaders and members of the community and they have taught us about the community’s rich and long history. As a result, we have come to focus much of our efforts on raising awareness about the culture and history of the Yazidis through sharing their stories and testimonies. Our aim is to share information, reduce stigmas, and to support the community in their efforts to preserve the unique Yazidi identity for future generations. In the meantime, we are offering direct support to this community, similarly to our emergency response program outlined above.

Who are the Yazidis?

The Yazidi (or Êzidî) community is a Kurmanji-speaking religious minority, originally stemming from across Northern Iraq, Northern Syria and parts of Turkey. Due to ongoing conflicts and atrocities and crimes committed against the community –  which have been classified by the UN as constituting genocide (August 2014 massacres against the Yazidis in the Sinjar/Shingal area of northern Iraq) –  large numbers of the Yazidi community were forcibly displaced and now live in refugee camps in the region  or in the diaspora spread across the globe.

Yazidism - The ancient religion of the Yazidi community

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What is the background of UHfR and Yazidi support?

 

Since July 2021, UHfR has become closely connected with a forcibly displaced Yazidi community needing support to live a more dignified life. In collaboration with a community representative, we have developed a strategy to improve the living conditions of this particular community that is marginalised and exposed to many risks and insecurities.

 

The economic, social, and health impacts of the global pandemic and other crises have had a devastating impact on the Yazidi community, adding more pressure to an already challenging existence and poor living conditions. Due to experiencing life-threatening conditions in their homelands as well as in their hosting countries, the community is inward-looking and suspicious of outsiders. With little hope of resettlement, Yazidi refugees often live difficult and uncertain lives in isolated communities, enduring extreme poverty and hopelessness.

 

Displaced Yazidis are in need of long-term support and sustainable solutions to overcome their precarious living conditions, to improve access to health services and preserve the cultural heritage of the community. The revitalization of traditional cultures and the preservation of their cultural and religious identity is an important endeavour given the fact that this isolated community of Yazidi refugees has recently survived genocide and still deals with severe traumas related to their experiences of war, torture, displacement, captivity, and severe sexual assault.

 

Through our emergency response program, UHfR has already been able to reach most of the roughly 240 Yazidi families in the community, adding up to a total of around 1200 individuals. We have provided basic food support, essential hygiene products, access to health services, essential winter supplies, a printer for legal documents, and we’ve covered other emergency needs. In addition to covering these urgent needs, we also support the long-term health and cultural life of the community through monthly stipends for volunteer nurses and financial support for cultural events. Of the individuals UHfR assists, 70% are women or minors, hence, our main focus is on developing new strategies to support childcare services and single women and mothers with little or no independent income. UHfR prioritises assisting the many Yazidi children in the community who are at high risk of malnutrition and have restricted or no access to education and leisure activities.

 

The effectiveness of our work relies on the close and trusted relationships and strong bonds we have developed with community representatives, ensuring we are able to respond quickly and carefully to the ever-changing needs of the community. Whilst acknowledging the limitations we face, our hope and vision is to support and assist the Yazidi community through a long-term partnership towards building community resilience and wellbeing.

Yazidis & the UHfR support?

1. Community Challenges

Psychosocial Support: Many people in the community are severely traumatized due to genocide, massacres, torture, rape, and forced displacement (and other violations of basic human rights).

Economic Insecurity: In the past years it has become increasingly difficult to survive in the context of a rapidly deteriorating economy (high inflation, rising cost of living, stagnating wages etc.). Community members are employed on construction sites, in the textile industry or in hospitality (hotels and restaurants, which only pay roughly half of the minimum wage). Despite the dangers and precarious conditions of working in construction, it is the preferred profession because it offers the best wages.

Emergency support: Due to a lack of adequate health services, precarious living conditions, no legal status and other reasons, there are many emergency situations in the community and barely any resources to respond to them.

Legal Protection: Community members have no legal recourse when their rights are violated because in their host country, they are not recognized as refugees. When members of the community face deportation, illegal pushbacks, detention or harassment at the hands of the authorities there is effectively no institution that can legally protect them.

Resettlement: Community members who were forcibly displaced when they escaped the genocide of August 2014 are afraid to lose their cases for resettlement in third countries. Resettlement cases have been delayed many times over the past years. The international community has forgotten about the events of 2014 and ignores the ongoing suffering of the Yazidi refugee community.

 

2. Community Needs

Food support: Dozens of families in the community are facing food insecurity, while the entire community is in need of support to cover their basic needs and expenses.

Hygiene products and clothing: Infants, elderly individuals, and women often lack access to hygiene products and clothing because they lack an independent income and have no family to support them.

Shelter: The community needs dedicated and structural support to cover rent and bills as well as basic household goods such as blankets, mattresses, clothing and radiators.

Medical assistance: Community members don’t have health insurance or easy access to affordable healthcare. Medical support is needed to cover the costs of medications, to pay a stipend to volunteer nurses from the community, in case of medical emergencies and to cover the treatment and see to the basic needs of patients suffering from chronicle, terminal or mental illnesses.

Access to education and educational material: (children’s school equipment)

Access to legal assistance and consultancy: Many individuals face or have faced instances of human rights violations. There are also ongoing transitional justice cases regarding the massacres and the 2014 genocide against the Yazidis.

International recognition of the genocide against the Yazidis

Protection: Yazidis need protection from the diaspora and continuous persecution of Yazidis by hostile insurgent groups/militia.

Cultural: The community deserves the right and requires support to celebrate cultural and religious events or traditions in public and without risk of harassment by the authorities or antagonistic members of the host community.

Emergency cash assistance: Community members require cash assistance to cover a variety of unexpected costs, like travel expenses, legal fees, hospital bills, etc.

  

3. UHfR Support

The bulk of UHfR’s monthly budget is going towards supporting the Yazidi refugee community. We have developed a strategy aimed specifically at improving the living conditions of this particular community which struggles to meet daily needs and to offer long-term security for its members. In addition, we also assist the community in their efforts to preserve their cultural identity and heritage.

Another important part of our work is to advocate for the recognition of the genocide against the Yazidis in 2014 by European governments. We hope this process can raise awareness about the ongoing atrocities the community endures and offer new means and programmes to support the victims of the genocide. UHfR organises educational events and collects and shares testimonies of community members and contemporary witnesses. Lastly, UHfR also offers support to aid the resettlement cases of Yazidi families in third countries.

 

Needs assessments: UHfR assesses the needs of the Yazidi community and takes action in close collaboration with community representatives and researchers to map community needs month by month. Besides the structural needs which are mainly covered by recurring donations and funding, we also respond to emergencies with impromptu fundraising campaigns and apply for emergency grants.

 

While the community’s needs can vary depending on the season or as a result of social and political developments, in the past they generally fell into the following categories: health care, medicines, general nutrition, educational support, gender-specific challenges, and housing.

 

-Emergency assistance for families & individuals

When an emergency occurs, we identify the specific needs and determine how we can best offer support. In most cases, this support will be flexible financial support, either through direct cash transfers or by paying for the required services or provisions.

-Medical Support

 

In order to efficiently respond to medical emergencies, UHfR supports volunteer nurses from the community who provide their services to the community for free.

UHfR supports them on a monthly basis by purchasing new medical equipment and other medical provisions that allow them to work more efficiently and safer.

 

Standard medical equipment: Stethoscope, blood pressure devices, compressor nebulizers, oximeters, glucometers, medical strips, thermometers, sphygmomanometers, and room temperature thermometers, crutches, medical bags, pulse oximeter,

 

Medical stock items: Medical masks and gloves, bandages, disinfectants, diabetic test strips, nursing clipboards and pen, trauma shears, and other medications and essentials to treat patients.

 

Nursing volunteers within the community through the purchase and provision of medical equipment, such as blood pressure machines, medication, etc.

To overcome these systemic challenges and improve public health conditions in a sustainable way, UHfR is working to support three professional nurses from within the Yazidi community with a monthly stipend and essential medical equipment. UHfR mediates and establishes additional dialogues and trainings between the nurses and other healthcare professionals. This partnership model with local nurses aims to empower the community from within, by enabling them to respond to their own needs with their existing skills and strengths and providing them with the material resources, equipment and additional training they need to deliver quality medical care to their community.

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