Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Christian Peacemaker Teams issues urgent call to help displaced Yazidi people

The following release was sent out today by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) concerning the urgent situation of the Yazidi people who have fled the Islamic State forces in northern Iraq. CPT has a longterm team of volunteers working in Iraqi Kurdistan:
CPT Iraqi Kurdistan, together with the Wadi and Alind organizations, spent two days with the Yazidi people who fled the terror of the Islamic State (IS) forces in the areas of Shangal/Sinjar. We visited two IDP camps in the Duhok governorate and interviewed more than 50 displaced people, who lost their relatives in IS attacks. The militias killed the men, kidnapped and raped the women, and many children and elderly died of dehydration and exhaustion as they fled.

The Yazidis spent a number of days on the mountain and in the semi-desert with very little food or water under the intense summer heat. The conditions they face in Iraqi Kurdistan are difficult and far from sufficient. Seeking for ways to better respond to this crisis, we are sending out an urgent call to action to the international community.

Photo courtesy of CPT

Refugees from Islamic State violence in Syria and Iraq
Full statement from the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team:

Help the Displaced Yazidi People from Shangal: Civil Society Organizations’ Urgent Call to the International Community

Representatives of three human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs), a German-Kurdish organization Wadi, a North American-based international organization Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), and Duhok-based Alind Organization, conducted a two day visit on 15 and 16 August 2014 to areas in the Duhok Governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan where Yazidi Iraqis who fled the violence of the Islamic State (IS) forces from the Shangal (Sinjar) area are now staying. The representatives spoke with an official at the Peshabur (Faysh Khabur) Iraqi-Syrian border crossing, who estimated that since 5 August more than 100,000 people have entered seeking refuge.

The representatives observed Yazidi families camping out under makeshift tents along the roads throughout the area, under highway overpass bridges, or in the open sided concrete buildings under construction. They visited the displacement camp for an estimated 2,000 people (no official numbers given) in the Khanke municipality near the town of Semel, and the Bajet Kandala Refugee Camp, near the Peshabur crossing. At these camps, they spoke with over 50 displaced persons. Those interviewed shared many common experiences. Families reported men in their family killed and women raped or kidnapped by IS forces, escaping to Mount Shangal, watching relatives die for lack of food and water and suffering extreme heat exposure. They appeared deeply traumatized, and spoke of shame and despair about their future. The majority of the interviewees said they feared to stay in Iraq and wanted to emigrate to Europe, the USA, or Canada.

Khanke camp has been set up on a field next to a small town to care for the rapid influx of the displaced Yazidis. More than 100 white UNHCR tents are spread around the field. People sat in the shade of the tents on cardboard or dusty mats. A local organization has delivered mattresses to a small portion of the residents. There were no water systems for consumption or bathing near the tents. Residents hauled water in buckets from a local school, but had bottles of water for drinking. According to the residents, the camp had only two latrines. Local people of the town served the residents of the camp a warm meal about 5 p.m., consisting of rice and bulgur wheat. Apart from one police car, the NGO representatives saw no security system for the camp, which might put women and children, especially, at risk of abuse. People are in dire need of sufficient sanitation, food, vitamins, and medical attention as well as administration and security.

Bajet Kandala Refugee Camp, situated just several kilometers from the Peshabur border crossing, was meant to serve as a reception/transit camp for the Syrian refugees. In an older portion of the camp, the visiting human rights workers saw canvas shelters, electricity, latrines, and water spigots. The other part, filled with several hundred white tents, was not finished. Residents of the new part, mostly families, had to cross a highly trafficked road to the older camp to haul buckets of water and get a tray of what appeared to be subsistence amounts of cooked food, mainly rice.

According to the administrator of the camp, a representative of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), around 20,000 people resided there as of 16 August. The camp is run by a KRG-related agency that appeared to be overwhelmed with the numbers of people already present and those arriving at the camp daily. A 15-member family sitting under a makeshift shelter at the side of the camp told an NGO representative that they had not eaten for three days. No international aid agencies were present at the camp.

Call to Action: Wadi, Christian Peacemaker Teams, and Alind, as international and Kurdish civil society organizations, call on the United Nations and all international aid agencies, government and non-governmental bodies to help the Yazidi people of Shangal!

The Kurdistan Regional authorities, along with local communities, are doing much to provide help for those in need, but the region is overwhelmed by the enormity of the influx of the hundreds of thousands displaced Yazidis, Christians, Shabaks, Turkmen, and others fleeing the horrific violence perpetuated by the Islamic State forces.

We ask the Iraqi government to act quickly and provide financial support from the central budget and try to find and release the missing persons, especially the women, remembering that Iraq signed resolution 1325 UNSCR in 2013, which calls on governments to protect women and children in conflict.

We urge the UN and other aid agencies to act quickly to provide necessary infrastructure to meet basic needs for the displaced--inside and outside the camps--such as food, sufficient sanitation systems, medical care, and protection.

We urge nations of the world to open their borders for those displaced by violence and to provide a process for them to immigrate and the financial and legal assistance needed.

Photographs from the camps can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/51706128@N00. Individual stories of people can be found at www.facebook.com/cpt.ik. An online pdf version of the call for aid is available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwFG-gDIQtW8amVyTk4tbjNTVzBaMEp2VWptcDRPSVdMcGxF/edit?usp=sharing . For more about the work of Christian Peacemaker Teams, go to www.cpt.org.

Source: 8/19/2014 Newsline

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