On the occasion of the 8th anniversary of the genocide against the Yazidis, a memorial event was held in Frankfurt’s Pauls Church on 3 August to commemorate those who died, those who were liberated and those who were left behind. The German section of the ISHR was honored with an award by the Central Council of the Yazidis in Germany for its support of the Yazidi refugees in Northern Iraq.
Thousands of innocent children, women and men were systematically killed, abducted and displaced by the terrorist militia Islamic State (IS) starting in 2014. The Central Council of the Yazidis in Germany (ZÊD) commemorated the genocide at the memorial event and presented the German section of the International Society for Human Rights (IGFM) with the ZÊD Award for special services to the Yazidis. For years, IGFM has been providing humanitarian and medical aid as well as education and lobbying work for the religious minority, whose members still have to live in large camps eight years after the genocide.
Katrin Bornmueller, Honorary Chairperson, Karl Hafen, former Executive Chairperson, and Khalil Al Rasho, Head of the Middle East Humanitarian Aid Department, accepted the award on behalf of IGFM. The award was presented in recognition of IGFM’s many years of work in the refugee camps. Especially Katrin Bornmüller and Khalil Al Rasho have decisively shaped and advanced this work with a lot of energy, heart, and soul.
Remembrance alone is not enough
In addition to remembering what had happened, the survivors, the liberated, and the bereaved must also be supported, as many speakers emphasized. Too many who survived the atrocities by IS are deprived of their last hope in the refugee camps. “This is also reflected in the number of suicides in the shelters,” lamented IGFM staff member Khalil Al Rasho, who has travelled to northern Iraq 35 times since 2014.
Life in the camp is no future
As representatives of the Yazidi tribes from Shingal have said, the Yazidi community wants to return to their homeland. Katrin Bornmueller and Khalil Al Rasho have heard the same wish time and again from those affected in the refugee camps. The reconstruction needed to achieve this has made little progress so far. The unstable situation in the region also contributes to the fact that a safe life in Shingal is hardly possible at the moment. Only in May, former refugees from Shingal had to return to refugee camps because of a military operation by Iraqi government troops.
Hope is of central importance
But life in the camps offers no perspective and must not be a long-term option. Nezihe Ciftci, herself a Yazidi and winner of the German Teachers’ Award 2021, emphasized in her laudation that the Yazidi community must not be reduced to the traumatic events caused by the IS alone:
“Thus, it is necessary to look for strengthening possibilities for action and support together.”
This is exactly where IGFM comes in – in order to make the stay in the camps more bearable, IGFM has always worked towards improving the quality of life there. In addition to medical and humanitarian aid, literacy, language and IT courses have been offered for years, as well as music and sports activities, in order to give adults, children, and young people a little hope and a perspective. Further projects are being planned.