Activist Murad urges Yazidis to return to Iraq

Laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize and Iraqi Yazidi Nadia Murad gives a speech during a commemoration ceremony in Stuttgart, southern Germany, on August 3, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 04 August 2019

Activist Murad urges Yazidis to return to Iraq

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

STUTTGART: Nobel laureate Nadia Murad on Saturday urged Iraq’s Yazidi minority to return to their ancestral heartland of Sinjar, five years after militants launched a brutal assault on their community there.

Murad was one of thousands of women and girls from the ancient faith abducted by Daesh 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 had already returned to Sinjar.
But “we need even more to return there so as to thwart the Daesh’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 Daesh, 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, Daesh 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 UN has said Daesh’s actions could amount to genocide, and is investigating militant 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 Daesh 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 Daesh 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.


UN warns of severe aid cuts in Yemen without new funds soon

Updated 22 August 2019

UN warns of severe aid cuts in Yemen without new funds soon

  • Donors have pledged $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis
  • But UN humanitarian chief Lise Grande says less than half the amount has been received so far
UNITED NATIONS: The UN humanitarian chief in Yemen warned Wednesday that unless significant new funding is received in the coming weeks, food rations for 12 million people in the war-torn country will be reduced and at least 2.5 million malnourished children will be cut off from life-saving services.
Lise Grande said the UN was forced to suspend most vaccination campaigns in May, and without new money a “staggering” 22 life-saving programs in Yemen will close in the next two months.
At a UN pledging conference in February, donors pledged $2.6 billion to meet the urgent needs of more than 20 million Yemenis, but Grande said that to date, less than half the amount has been received.
“When money doesn’t come, people die,” she said in a statement Wednesday.
The conflict in Yemen began with the 2014 takeover of the capital, Sanaa, by Iran-backed Houthi Shiite rebels who control much of the country’s north. A Saudi-led coalition that includes the United Arab Emirates allied with Yemen’s internationally recognized government has been fighting the Houthis since 2015.
The fighting in the Arab world’s poorest country has left thousands of civilians and created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, leaving millions suffering from food and medical care shortages and pushing the country to the brink of famine.
UN deputy humanitarian chief Ursula Mueller told the Security Council on Tuesday that 12 million Yemenis have been assisted every month, “but much of this is about to stop” because only 34% of the UN’s $4.2 billion appeal for 2019 has been funded.
At this time last year, she said, 65% of the appeal was funded, including generous contributions from Yemen’s neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The UN humanitarian office in New York said Wednesday that Saudi Arabia and the UAE each pledged $750 million to its Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan for 2019.
Grande said the UN is grateful to donors who have lived up to their promises, and in half the districts where people were facing famine “conditions have improved to the point where families are no longer at risk of starvation.”
But she said of the 34 major UN humanitarian programs in Yemen, only three are funded for the entire year. Several have been forced to close in recent weeks, Grande said, and many large-scale projects designed to help destitute, hungry families have been unable to start.
Without new funds in the coming weeks, she said, 19 million people will also lose access to health care, including 1 million women who depend on the UN for reproductive health services. In addition, Grande said, clean water programs for 5 million people will have to shut down at the end of October and tens of thousands of displaced families may find themselves homeless.
“Millions of people in Yemen, who through no fault of their own are the victims of this conflict, depend on us to survive,” she said. “All of us are ashamed by the situation. It’s heart-breaking to look a family in the eye and say we have no money to help.”