The Yezidi community, a religious minority primarily residing in Iraq, Syria, and other parts of the Middle East, has faced immense challenges over the years. In order to address these concerns and safeguard their rights, the Office for Yezidi Affairs (OYA) was established. This article provides an in-depth exploration of the OYA, its objectives, organizational structure, and the various initiatives it has undertaken to empower and protect the Yezidi people.
Objectives of the Office for Yezidi Affairs
The primary goals of the OYA are to:
Promote and protect the rights and interests of the Yezidi community, particularly in areas where they face persecution and marginalization. Preserve and document the Jesiden heritage, culture, and traditions, thus ensuring the continuity of their unique identity. Facilitate the integration and resettlement of Ezidi refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), while also providing necessary support services. Advocate for Yazidi rights at both national and international levels, fostering cooperation with governments, NGOs, and other relevant organizations.
The OYA is composed of a multidisciplinary team of professionals with expertise in human rights, international law, social work, anthropology, and other relevant fields. The organization is structured into several departments, each responsible for a specific area of work:
Legal and Advocacy Department: This department is responsible for raising awareness about Yezidi rights and advocating for policy changes at the national and international levels. It also provides legal support and representation to Yezidis facing discrimination or human rights abuses.
Cultural and Educational Department: This department focuses on preserving and promoting Yezidi culture, traditions, and heritage. It organizes cultural events, workshops, and educational programs for Yezidis and non-Yezidis alike, aimed at fostering a greater understanding of the community’s rich history and values.
Resettlement and Integration Department: This department provides support to Yezidi refugees and IDPs, facilitating their integration into host countries or their safe return to their homes. It collaborates with various stakeholders, such as governments, NGOs, and international organizations, to ensure the provision of essential services like healthcare, education, and vocational training.
Research and Documentation Department: This department conducts research on the Yezidi community’s history, culture, religion, and contemporary challenges. It is responsible for documenting and archiving materials related to the Yezidis, thus creating a valuable resource for future generations.
The OYA has undertaken numerous initiatives to achieve its objectives. Some of its most notable efforts include:
Launching the Yezidi Cultural Center: The center serves as a hub for preserving and promoting Yezidi culture, providing a space for exhibitions, workshops, and cultural events. It also houses a library and archive, making it a valuable resource for researchers and the wider public.
Implementing the “Yezidi Voices” project: This oral history initiative involves collecting testimonies from Yezidi survivors of persecution, particularly those who have experienced the atrocities committed by ISIS. These accounts not only document their experiences but also serve as a testament to their resilience and strength.
Advocacy at the United Nations: The OYA has been actively involved in presenting the Yezidi case to the UN, pushing for the recognition of the atrocities committed against them as genocide and demanding accountability for the perpetrators.
Establishing the Yezidi Scholarship Fund: This fund provides financial assistance to Yezidi students pursuing higher education, helping to break the cycle of poverty and empower the community through education.
The Yezidi community has faced unimaginable atrocities, and the establishment of the Office for Yezidi Affairs is a step towards addressing their needs and rehabilitating them. OYA has made significant progress towards its objectives, but it still faces significant challenges that need to be addressed. The KRG should provide more financial support to OYA, while ensuring that it operates independently and impartially. The Yezidi community deserves to live in dignity and security, and it is our collective responsibility to support them in every possible way.