Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Canadian Connection: Samaritan's Purse Aiding Iraqi Yazidis

"I do not wish to diminish the suffering of any other group at the hands of ISIL but the Yazidis were their number one target."
"The barbarism and inhumanity of ISIL cannot be understood. It is something shameful."
"The Yazidis can return home and become productive again. To help them secure their future would be a beautiful thing."
"[The Calgary-based Good Samaritan operators responded to a compulsion to aid Yazidis] with hope through practical humanitarian intervention."
"I can't lie. I am deeply disturbed by what I have witnessed."
John Clayton, Calgarian, Samaritan's Purse humanitarian charity, Dohuk, Iraq

"Everyone has problems, not just the returnees from ISIL custody."
"Those getting married often have lost relatives. Some of the girls have psychological problems. Being made up helps them. What we try to show them is that life goes on."
Zhyan Haji Osman, beautyshop operator, Grace Community Centre, Dohuk, Iraq

"Women are definitely vulnerable as they walk through the camps with items that are sought after."
"This [delivering food directly to tents for women-led households] gives them more dignity and protection."
Kathryn Jagt, Calgarian, Samaritan's Purse, Iraq
Matthew Fisher/Postmedia News
Matthew Fisher/Postmedia News   Ian MacKay of Squamish, BC, distributes medicine and medical care only metres away from where several suspected ISIL members were pulled from a line by Iraqi security forces.

In a refugee camp  teeming with Yazidi refugees from the unimaginable violence directed at them by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Samaritan's Purse representatives have been distributing food provided by the United Nations to Sunni Arabs who have fled the combat in Mosul, where Iraqi forces, Peshmerga and Shiite militias have entered the besieged city to clear explosives and confront the jihadist terrorists in street-by-street combat.

During the Christmas holidays a jumbo jet arrived, bursting with equipment for an urgently needed surgical hospital positioned not far from the Mosul front lines. Also expected to arrive shortly is a group of Canadian surgeons and surgical nurses to operate out of that hospital prepared for its opening in the new year. The Government of Canada has funded Samaritan's Purse humanitarian efforts.

John Clayton described what he has witnessed in Iraq through the victimization of the Yazidis, as the most horrible instances of persecution he has ever seen in his 26 years of work in sites such as Sudan and Haiti. He and his team have prepared themselves to undertake the aid required to launch the healing process of people who have suffered physical and psychological torture, though those Yazidis who were slaughtered are well beyond any human intervention.

Their surviving relatives, women who were enslaved, raped and emotionally tormented represent the focus of the humanitarian group, along with the children, torn from the moorings of their ancestral home and the comfort of extended family. The Grace Community Centre established by the humanitarian agency sits alongside a UN refugee camp and another, informal camp where close to 40,000 Yazidis are trying to cope with loss amid hopes for the future.

There, at the Centre, health care, social workers, food is available. There too, families are exposed to an animal husbandry program, each allotted 20 sheep, taught how they can build a flock to assume a new kind of existence for the future. There are carpentry, cooking, sewing and photography classes. And a beauty salon helping to guide women into feel-good-about-themselves frames of mind. For the children there are playgrounds complete with slides and swings.

Mathew Fisher/Postmedia News
Mathew Fisher/Postmedia News   Yazidi children play on a slide. Such recreational activities are one way that Samaritan's Purse tries to get children to forget the extreme persecution that the Yazidi community has suffered for more than two years in northern Iraq.

On nearby fields instructors teach team play and the games of soccer and volleyball. There is a language school, teaching Yazidis the English language. Also at the Grace Centre is a modern clinic with doctors, including an obstetrician/gynecologist on staff, as well as a dentist and a pharmacist. These, needless to say, are the Yazidis that can be reached and aided.

There are Yazidis in desperate situations facing starvation and privation during the winter months, still remaining on Mount Sinjar. They are ill-equipped to face the cold and the snow, lacking adequate garments, the children suffering, living in a zone resembling hell on Earth, with no escape, a forgotten and neglected people that fate has abandoned to the predation and victimization of a remorselessly monstrous enemy.

Iraqi Kurdish Yazidis on mount Sinjar
Iraqi Kurdish Yazidis on Mount Sinjar. Photo: Actukurde

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