In Response to a Desperate Need, Yazidis to Find Refuge in Canada
"The reality is that if the international community doesn't wake up to the plight of these people, they will be wiped off the face of the Earth."
"And that's why it's so important to look at resettlement of these people as only one very small piece of the broader puzzle."
Michelle Rempel, Conservative Member of Parliament, Ottawa
"[Canada has long given haven to refugees noting their "vulnerability, not religion or ethnicity [and turns its focus on] highly vulnerable [survivors of Islamic State predations. A] significant majority [of the 1,200 slated to be brought to Canada will be Yazidi resulting from the] high level of violence [they have suffered. The Yazidi people represent] an integral part [of Iraq's society that should be preserved which explains why the Government of Canada focuses on] a small number of people for whom resettlement is the best option."
"As many have experienced unimaginable trauma, both physical and emotional, many will have unique psychological and social needs such as trauma counselling,"
Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, Government of Canada
"Some of these women haven't even told their own families about what they experienced [as victims of Islamic State violent atrocities]."
Dawn Edlund, associate deputy immigration minister
The Government of Canada lauds itself for ensuring that 40,000 Syrian refugee families fleeing conflict in their own country were expedited entry into Canada to begin a new life, with assistance in housing, settling in, and financial aid through government tax-funded coffers. Canadians felt, by and large, fairly satisfied with the effort, though some might have felt it would have been useful to focus on the plight of women and children, with a special emphasis to begin with, on Christian Syrians and Yazidis, both of whom as minorities, were singled out for violent predation.
Yazidi women and children in particular have faced the horrific reality that the maltreatment they were singled out for destroyed families when Islamic State targeted Yazidi men for annihilation, piling them into mass graves, and taking the women and children into perpetual bondage status, as slaves to be bartered for, maltreated and violated. The 40,000 Syrians absorbed into Canada were victims of their own government, when the Shiite Alawite President of Syria took vicious exception to his Sunni Syrian population protesting their inferior place in Syria.
Few championed the plight of the thousands of Yazidi women who were sold in the marketplace as sex slaves. Those who were able to escape, were sheltered and protected by the Kurds, but the world at large seemed to take little notice of their misery and the plight they faced, destined to be slaughtered or their freedom taken from them, in an abysmal reality where they were considered less than human, and free for the taking. Michelle Rempel had a better understanding than most in government, having interviewed some Yazidi women.
That this current government has finally turned its attention to alleviating the plight of a relative handful of these vulnerable people is a welcome change. Erring on the side of caution reflecting their fears, the move to absorb 1,200 refugees comprised partially of entire families as well as individuals owes to the fact that many among them fear repercussions against other members of their families should much information be made available identifying them and their imminent move to Canada, and the government is respecting that cautionary need.
Immigration Minister Hussen spoke of close to 400 Yazidi refugees who have been accepted in the last four months, quietly and without fanfare, in contrast to the intense public exposure the intake of the Syrian refugees had been given. And, it seems that the absorption of 1,200 Yazidi refugees through government initiative won't be the end of the effort. The government is prepared to become involved in authorizing private sponsorships of Yazidi refugees, where groups associated with churches, for example, pool resources to sponsor refugees.
Four months ago the House of Commons was unanimous in its support of a motion brought by Conservative Members of Parliament, calling on the government to provide asylum opportunities to Yazidi women and girls, in recognition of their conditions of fraught existence in a geography where a ferociously inhumane Islamist jihadi group threatens their very survival to the point where the atrocities conducted upon the Yazidis have been named as genocidal in intention.
"Helping to resettle all child survivors is vital to this work", stated Immigration Minister Hussen, in acknowledgement of Islamic State's focus on targeting young boys as well as girls and women. The hope is that this government will continue to focus on the rescue of Yazidis, well deserving of Canadian efforts to offer them another opportunity to live life to its fullest potential, distanced from the horrors of their homeland where a Medieval fascism attempted to deprive them of their very existence.
|Yazidis refugees carry their belongings on January 3 in Diyarbakir, southeastern Turkey as they change their refugee camp and move to Midyat, further south. The Trudeau government is poised to announce today that Canada will give asylum to 1,200 primarily Yazidi refugees by year end. While the majority of the refugees will come from Iraq, the government says some will also be accepted from Lebanon and Turkey. (ILYAS AKENGIN / AFP/GETTY IMAGES)|