Celebrating the arrival of Yazidi women and children to Canada

Celebrating the arrival of Yazidi women and children to Canada

For immediate release – March 8, 2017

PRESS CONFERENCE:
March 8, 2017 10am at Thornton Park, Main and Terminal, Vancouver

A celebration of the arrival of Yazidi women and children to Canada

Vancouver - On International Women's Day, feminist activists, educators, advocates against gender violence and concerned citizens celebrate the recent safe arrival of Yazidi refugees to Canada.

In August 2014, the Yazidi community in Iraq suffered a horrific attack by Daesh/ISIS/ISIL. Many of the men and boys were slaughtered outright along with “older” women. Young women and children were enslaved and tortured. In 2016, the UN reported that atrocities, including daily rapes, against thousands of Yazidi women and girls continue.[i] Recent reports estimate more than 3,000 Yazidi women and girls remain captive.[ii]

Yazidi survivor Nadia Murad brought the plight of Yazidi women and girls to the attention of the Canadian government. On October 25, 2016 parliament unanimously declared “ISIS persecution of Yazidis a genocide” and pledged “to bring refugees fleeing the violence to Canada within four months.”[iii] Last month the federal government announced it had successfully brought 400 refugees to Canada, primarily Yazidis, and plans to welcome a total of 1,200 by end of 2017.

In Vancouver, a community discussion circle was held to explore ways to ensure sufficient support is provided to the refugees. The primary messages coming out of our gathering are:

“We celebrate the arrival of Yazidi refugees to Canada and urge all levels of government to provide the financial and medical support, and psychological treatment for trauma recovery, so the refugees may settle and recover from their ordeals.”
“We urge the federal government to provide additional funding over and above the $28 million they have pledged for the Yazidis. In Germany, more than four times that amount has been set aside to assist a similar number of Yazidi refugees settling there.”
“Many Canadian refugee services and systems are already working beyond their capacities. Additional support is needed, including the provision of enough translators.”
“We recommend that the Canadian government publicly advocate for the freeing of Yazidi women and girls still held captive and tortured by Daesh/ISIS as an immediate priority to send a message of hope and the possibility of justice to victims, refugees, and those vulnerable to conflict-related sexual violence.”

We look forward to government announcements about how they will provide the necessary additional resources so these courageous newcomers have the best chance of a new life.

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Remember Our Sisters Everywhere (ROSE) is an online activist community that promotes the prevention of violence, and encourages local and international communities to remember and value the women and girls we have lost to violence. Press contact: rememberoursisterseverywhere@gmail.com

[i] UN News Centre: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54247#.WCoJ3_krKF4

[ii] New York Post: http://nypost.com/2017/02/22/new-hope-for-yazidi-women-once-held-as-sex-slaves-by-isis/

[iii] CBC News: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/conservatives-yazidis-liberal-mccallum-1.3820299

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