In August 2014, the Iraqi Sinjar was the scene of massacres of the Yazidi people by the Islamic State, now described as a genocide by the UN: several thousand civilians were executed and thousands of women and children were held captive. Successive attacks by Daesh troops forced the population to move en masse to Iraqi Kurdistan, Syria and Turkey. For some of them, trapped and encircled in Mount Sinjar, the exodus became a struggle against thirst and hunger in the sweltering summer heat. Many people died, others managed to reach camps.
Six years later, over the year 2020, as the situation has stabilized, the displaced people are gradually returning to their villages. But their houses have been demolished and basic services are almost non-existent. Everything has to be rebuilt and the families’ means of support are very limited after such a long period of displacement.
In the village of Tal Banat, one clay house still stands. It is the home of Suri Hussein, a 65-year-old Iraqi woman whose husband died shortly after they left for the besieged mountains. “We would never imagine that hunger or thirst could kill us, we were too focused on how to survive and escape the Islamic State,” Suri explains.
Suri returned to her village after six years of living in camps. Like her neighbors, she is facing cold winter weather, a lack of water, food, and government restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Villagers must cope with the closure of markets and schools and are isolated from the main town, the only place where health services and the main market are present.
SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL visited the village of Tal Banat in October, thanks to the financial support of the Crisis and Support Center of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. Our teams visited each of the houses to assess the existing needs and provide an appropriate response. Water tanks, hygiene kits, drinking water and winter supplies such as mattresses, blankets, heaters, jerrycans of kerosene and clothing were quickly provided to the inhabitants.
Thank to this emergency aid, 3,180 villagers from Tal Banat were able to cope with the harsh winter conditions in Sinjar, at a time when only a few NGOs were present. Today, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL is adopting a structural and integrated approach to meet the needs of the people in the region in a sustainable way, in coordination with the other organizations now on the ground.
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