Posted on July 16, 2016 by Editorial Staff in Yazidis
SHINGAL, Iraq,— More than eight months after its liberation from the Islamic State (IS), the Kurdish Yazidi town of Shingal (Sinjar in Arabic) still remains deserted. Only a handful of its population has returned seven months after its liberation.
Of nearly 8,500 families who lived here before the IS takeover of 2014. Only 20 families have returned to restart their lives, lack of services being the main reason prohibiting their return.
Most families are eager to come home and reclaim the town but lack of public services has not made a homecoming possible.
“Water and electricity are important, but this is our country, our honor, so they must come back with or without water or electricity,” a Yazidi man, who recently returned to the town with his wife and children, told Rudaw.
Massive destruction of homes, shops, government buildings and streets during the year-and-a-half of IS occupation and counterattacks to expel the group is another reason for the slow return of life to this town.
One of the handfuls of families who returned recently now lives under a tent with their four children next to the rubble of what was once their home.
“They (IS) demolished our home and now we have to live under this tent,” the mother said. “We have not received any help or assistance. We will be really grateful if they rebuild our home for us.”
According to the mayor of Shingal, 80 percent of the town was destroyed in the war and now there are proposals for either rebuilding the old town or leaving it as a symbol of IS destruction and building a new one from the foundation up. Neither proposal has been approved or begun yet.
“Shingal is badly destroyed and paid a price in this war because the majority of its population is Yazidis and Kurds,” said the mayor.
The town itself now looks more like a giant military base with Peshmerga soldiers shuttling to and fro and maintaining bases for its protection.
Furthermore Shingal city is close to villages which IS still occupy, another factor that is discouraging most Yazidis from returning to their former homes.
Islamic State has captured most parts of Sinjar (Shingal) district in northwest Iraq on August 3, 2014 which led thousands of Kurdish families to flee to Mount Sinjar, where they were trapped in it and suffered from significant lack of water and food, killing and abduction of thousands of Yazidis as well as rape and captivity of thousands of women.
Those who stay behind are subjected to brutal, genocidal acts: thousands killed, hundreds buried alive, and countless acts of rape, kidnapping and enslavement are perpetuated against Yazidi women. To add insult to injury, IS fighters ransack and destroy ancient Yazidi holy sites.
According to Human Rights organizations, thousands of Yazidi Kurdish women and girls have been forced to marry or been sold into sexual slavery by the IS jihadists. UN says thousands of Yazidi girls still in Islamic State captivity.