In Iraq, the Yazidis return to camp after fighting in Sinjar

Jondi Khodar is a policeman from a village in the Black Sinjar area. When clashes broke out between Yazidi fighters and the Iraqi army, he had to leave his homeland again, like thousands of others.

Most of the 10,000 displaced people in recent days in Iraqi Kurdistan in northern Iraq have already tasted the precarious life of the camp. With the arrival of the Islamic State (IS) group in 2014, they first fled Sinjar, the historic home of the Yazidi minority.

“The last time, we moved away for fear of IS. We were in a camp for six years,” recalls Mr. Black, 37, who came to the camp on May 2 with his wife and five children. Of Chamishko Zakho near the town

It has been only two years since he returned to his village. “Despite the problems, we managed on a daily basis, he sighed. But recently, the situation has deteriorated.”

On May 1 and 2, Turkish Kurdish rebels, an armed group affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), fought a rare two-day battle against the Iraqi army and the Sinjar Resistance Unit.

But for a long time, the region has survived the onslaught of conflict. “Every day we heard gunshots and explosions, we were scared for our families,” said Mr Black.

– “Extra Population” –

The century-old Kurdish community specializes in a mysterious monotheistic religion, the Yazidi minority has been persecuted for centuries for their beliefs. Before IS suffered the full force of violence.

Many of the IDPs who recently arrived in autonomous Kurdistan returned to the country only in 2020 after fleeing IS for the first time, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Tents lined with thick tarpaulins line the Chamishkor alley, where more than 22,000 people live. Inside, there is the same delicate foam mattress on the floor, where the worried old women are sitting.

Near the administration office, dozens of men and women line up in front of a truck delivering food aid boxes: one kilogram of sugar, tea, rice, flour, milk. One week is enough for a walk.

According to a local official, about 1,711 families or 10,261 people from Sinjar came to Kurdistan in the first week of May. Currently 964 families are living in the camp. The rest have taken refuge with their relatives.

UNHCR spokesman Firas al-Khatib told AFP: “Due to the depletion of humanitarian funds, the camps are overcrowded and there is a risk of limited access to basic services.”

His agency supports “sustainable solutions” for people returning to their homes, he said. “But any return must be voluntary, respect human dignity and be in a peaceful environment.”

According to Iraqi authorities, peace has returned to Sinjar. But the latest outbreak of fever has sparked tensions in a sector where many actors are involved.

– “No one will return” –

The Sinjar Resistance Unit, whose fighters are affiliated with Hachad al-Chabi’s former paramilitary forces, alleges the army wants to take control of their territory.

The military wants to implement a Baghdad settlement agreement with Iraqi Kurdistan, which calls for the withdrawal of Yazidi fighters and the PKK.

“Military reinforcements” have been sent to Sinjar to impose state domination, the Joint Command of Iraqi Security Forces announced in a statement on May 5: “We will not allow the presence of armed groups.”

Sinjar is also the target of sporadic air strikes by neighboring Turkey against the bases of PKK, a group classified as “terrorists” in Ankara.

In this powder keg, the Yazidis are the victims of bail.

Jaime Hassan Hamad, 65, fled Sinjar for the first time due to an “IS attack”. Today, with her children and grandchildren, her family of 17 has reunited in Chamishko.

“If our security and stability are not guaranteed, we will not return to Sinjar this time. We will not be able to return and we will be displaced every time,” he said. “

Leave a Comment