Newly arrived Yazidis who escaped sex slavery of ISIS eager to build better future in Canada
2017/03/07 Leave a comment
Another article on Yazidis in Canada, focussed on London:
It’s here in London — where about 300 Yazidis have formed a small but tight-knit community since the early 1980s when they fled the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein — that Bhasa and other recently arrived Yazidis hope to start building a new life for their families and try to move beyond the horrors they suffered in captivity.
Dalal Abdallah, a Yazidi human rights activist who lives in London, says members of her community have been donating clothing, hygiene products and toys for the families who have arrived and look forward to absorbing more into their community.
“For many, many years, we have been struggling [to grow] as a community because no Yazidis were coming through,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to build our community, and the more people, the merrier.”She said London has already accepted and integrated Syrian refugees and that there’s enough support for Yazidis, including a program at Victoria Hospital to help refugees deal with trauma.
Other support comes from London’s Cross Cultural Learner Centre, where Yazidis can learn some basic tools for integrating in Canada: how to get housing, set up bank accounts, apply for health cards.
“We are here to support them, welcome them, make them feel comfortable, that they are not alone here,” said Omar Khoudeida, a Yazidi interpreter who works at the centre and who himself came to London nearly 20 years ago as a refugee.
“There’s a community behind them and supporting them.”
But even with that support, Bhasa must still cope with the emotional fallout of a family torn apart by genocide.
She fears being identified. Although she doesn’t know the fate of family members in Iraq, she’s worried that going public could put them in danger. She hasn’t seen her husband and other male relatives since ISIS invaded her home in August 2014.
Daughter still missing
She also fears for her daughter, who was nine years old when she was snatched by the Islamist militant group.
“They took her. She doesn’t know anything about her,” Khoudeida said.
While ISIS targets all communities, it has particular antipathy for Yazidis, whom it considers to be infidels.
Last June, a UN commission declared in a report that ISIS was committing genocide against the religious group of about 400,000. ISIS, it said, was subjecting “every Yazidi woman, child or man that it has captured to the most horrific of atrocities.”