Yazidis hail prom­ise of Cana­dian haven

Cape Breton Post - - CANADA / WORLD - BY LEE BERTHI­AUME

Canada’s prom­ise to re­set­tle hun­dreds of Yazidis by the end of the year is be­ing wel­comed in Iraq, where Yazidi women and girls have en­dured hor­rific abuse and per­se­cu­tion at the hands of ISIL.

Among those who have greeted the news with open arms is Saud Khalid, who was kid­napped by ISIL in Au­gust 2014 and sold as a sex slave three times be­fore es­cap­ing af­ter a year in cap­tiv­ity.

UN of­fi­cials re­cently in­ter­viewed the 23-year-old about go­ing to Canada and she’s hop­ing she and her young son will be among the 1,200 Yazidis and other ISIL sur­vivors ac­cepted by the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment.

“We wish to go and live in Canada be­cause here our sit­u­a­tion is not good in gen­eral,” she said through a trans­la­tor on Wed­nes­day. “We live in bad con­di­tions and we want to go.

“If they take me to Canada, I will never come back. And my hope is if my rel­a­tives still be­ing held by ISIL, if they es­cape, I want them to also join me in Canada.”

The gov­ern­ment’s plan has also been wel­comed by Dr. Luma Al­han­abadi, who runs Dohuk Girls and Women Treat­ment and Sup­port Cen­tre, which is partly funded by Canada.

Ini­tially op­posed to re­set­tle­ment for fear sur­vivors would face sig­nif­i­cant bar­ri­ers abroad, Al­han­abadi says she now sup­ports the idea and re­cently sub­mit­ted ap­pli­ca­tions for 15 sur­vivors to go to Canada.

Three oth­ers left for Canada this week.

Al­han­abadi, whose cen­tre of­fers gy­ne­co­log­i­cal ser­vices, coun­selling, ther­apy and le­gal ser­vices for about 900 ISIL sur­vivors, said her change of heart on re­set­tle­ment came af­ter 210 sur­vivors went to Ger­many.

There they were able to fi­nally find peace de­spite the lan­guage dif­fer­ences and an un­fa­mil­iar cul­ture.

“Even with­out any ther­apy ses­sions, they feel good,” she said of those who went to Ger­many. “So now I’ve changed my mind.”

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