Security forces stop family bringing aid in Sinjar / (c) Belkis Wille
Human Rights Watch has published an extensive report today that says the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), specifically the KDP has placed disproportionate limits on goods entering and leaving the Sinjar district, negatively affecting the Yazidis' recovery post-IS.
According to the report the partial embargo is "causing unnecessary harm to people’s access to food, water, livelihoods, and other fundamental rights."
As the reason for the limits the report says the KRG is concerned about the activities of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), whose fighters entered the area in August 2014 to defend the Yazidis against the Islamic State's (IS/ISIS/ISIL) genocidal onslaught on the religious community.
Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch says, “After the devastating ISIS attacks on the area and slaughter of the Yezidi population two years ago, the KRG’s restrictions are another serious blow. The KRG should be working to facilitate access to Sinjar for the hundreds of Yezidi civilians wishing to return to their homes, not adding more barriers to their recovery."
The report singles out the approach of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which controls the entry and exiting of goods and materials in and out of Sinjar, and says aid organisations were only able to bring aid in when they sent it via a KDP-affiliated charity.
Different sources also told the HRW that a senior KRG-KDP official had told them that the restrictions were a punishment for the Yazidis acceptance of the PKK in the area.
A top Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) leader in charge of delivering aid to the region is also quoted in the report as saying that the party’s aid branch tried to deliver food, clothes, and toys to Sinjar in February with the KRG health minister’s permission. But an official in the Dohuk governor’s office refused permission, saying that ministerial permission only covered movement within the region, and there was a chance they would take this aid to the armed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), the allied Sinjar Resistance Units (YBŞ), or across to Syria-Rojava.
Before August 2014, Sinjar was home to 360,000 Yezidis. ISIS fighters have killed between 2,000 and 5,500 Yezidis since August 3, 2014, and abducted an estimated 6,386, according to a recent United Nations report. The ISIS attacks displaced at least 90 percent of the Yezidi population from Sinjar. Over 180,000 displaced Yezidis are in camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Only a small number of Yezidis have returned.
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