So Syrias Vibes is back in Iraqi Kurdistan for the 6th time and up in Bajed Kandala Camp in the Duhok province for the past week. For the last 3 years, BK Camp is currently home to over 7,000 Yazidis who were forced to flee their home of Sinjar in August 2014. In short, 5,000 men and boys were systematically murdered and buried in mass graves in Islamic State's 'convert or die' campaign. 7,000 women and young girls were abducted and sold into slavery of which the majority remain captive to this day. 50,000 Yazidis are also currently displaced in camps like BK in Iraq, Northern Syria, Turkey and Greece.
ISIS were pushed out of the area of Sinjar after heavy fighting with Kurdish guerillas and later a rare co-ordinated joint op involving the Syrian, Turkish and Iraqi Kurds but the region was completely destroyed in the process. With ISIS present in the south of the region, ongoing political issues and zero infrastructure the Yazidis will not be able to return home for the foreseeable future.
As of March 2017, apart from our countinued support for Heyva Sor A Kurd in Syria, we have been supporting Joint Help For Kurdistan, an umbrella initiative working with local NGO's in Bajed Kandala Camp. Formed in 2014 by Swedish/Kurdish doctors, JHK operate a clinic and a small hospital in the camp to provide much needed healthcare to the camp's residents seeing on average 150 patients a day although this morning the numbers are up. They are also supporting young people who have been recently liberated from ISIS.
Like ourselves at Syrias Vibes and The SCOOP Foundation, they don't receive any government funding and are reliant on friends, the community and folks like us to continue their work. On Tuesday I was invited to UN Goodwill Ambassador and survivor, Nadia Murad's family's home in Rwenga camp not far from here. There I met with two boys who were bought back from ISIS at an extortionate price only a month ago. Their families, through a translator, spoke of the difficulties of reintegration to the community and the lack of support, in daily life and psychological support afforded to them. JHK are working hard to support survivors with these issues and we are committed to support them too, with your help hopefully!
The camp has a market beside it and a few dens where you can smoke shisha, drink chai, play dominoes and watch the ball. Everybody is football mental here with everyone supporting either Real Madrid or Barcelona, except one chun I met who's Man United all the way. I also found the only offo in the place and am getting on very well with everyone there! The community spirit is quite strong herewith crime virtually non-existent and the camp itself is kept quite clean by the residents.
Life is very tough on the people here though. Living in a tent for 3 years does take it's toll. Freezing winters and scorching summers are just the tip. There's virtually zero employment in the camp unless you're lucky enough to have a car for some taxi work or a stall at the market. Also, as said before, there is little psychological support on offer to them. Over 500 children in BK suffer from depression and anxiety plus anyone over the age of 3 would have seen and experienced extreme trauma from the genocide.
So that's week one, keep an eye here for more updates as we go along. If you wish to donate and to help us with our continued support for Joint Help for Kurdistan and our Partner org in Syria Heyva Sor A Kurd, please hit the link below.
Also for more info on the Yazidi genocide, throw her into Google, plenty of resources in there.