Nobel prize-winning activist urges Yazidis to return to Iraq

Nobel prize-winning activist urges Yazidis to return to Iraq
Nobel prize-winning Yazidi activist Nadia Murad, who was previously kidnapped by Islamic State, has urged Yazidis to return to Iraq to thwart the extremist group’s plans.
2 min read
04 August, 2019
Nadia Murad called on Iraqi Yazidis to return to their country [Getty]

Nobel laureate Nadia Murad on Saturday urged Iraq's Yazidi minority to return to their ancestral heartland of Sinjar, five years after the Islamic State (IS) group launched a brutal assault on their community there.

Murad was one of thousands of women and girls from the minority faith abducted by the extremist group as they overran swathes of Iraq in 2014.

Speaking in the southwestern city of Stuttgart at the invitation of Germany's central Yazidi council, she said that more than 90,000 Yazidis had already returned to Sinjar.

But "we need even more to return there so as to thwart the IS's plan to chase them out from Sinjar," she said.

"The Kurdish and Iraqi authorities have done nothing for us and there is currently no local authority in the region of Sinjar," Murad said.

Describing the de-mining of the territory and the exhumation of mass graves as "a positive step forward," she called for the restoration of public services, including schools and hospitals, in the region.

She also argued that the Kurdish and Iraqi authorities should "compensate the Yazidi survivors of the IS, but so far they have still had nothing."

Baghdad has awarded some Yazidis a one-off payment of $1,700, equivalent to just over three times the average monthly wage in Iraq.

On August 3, 2014, Islamic State group fighters seized Mount Sinjar, and went on to slaughter thousands of Yazidi men and boys and abduct girls to be used as "sex slaves".

The United Nations has said IS's actions could amount to genocide, and is investigating extremist atrocities across Iraq.

Of the world's 1.5 million Yazidis, around 550,000 were living in the remote corners of northern Iraq before 2014.

The brutal assault by IS pushed around 360,000 Yazidis to flee to other parts of Iraq, including the Kurdish region, where they live in ramshackle displacement camps.

According to authorities, more than 6,400 Yazidis were abducted by IS and only half of them were able to flee or be rescued, while the fate of the others remains unknown.

Another 100,000 fled abroad.

The number of Yazidis living in Germany is around 150,000.