Yazidis hail promise of Canadian haven
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.”