Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Group Wants Liberals to Take Action on Plan to Help Yazidi Refugees

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Group Wants Liberals to Take Action on Plan to Help Yazidi Refugees

Article excerpt

Stop ignoring Yazidis, government urged

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OTTAWA - At least 400 Yazidi women raped and tortured by Islamic militants could have safe passage to Canada if the government would heed a proposal to rescue them, a religious freedoms organization says.

One Free World International says in their drive to resettle more than 25,000 Syrian refugees, the Liberals are turning their backs on the most vulnerable -- religious minorities who are often a direct target of warring factions in the ongoing conflicts in the region.

The group has identified 400 Yazidi women and their families, about 1,600 people in all, living in displaced persons camps in Kurdistan. It has a plan to bring them to Canada, but says the proposal is being ignored.

Yazidis, ethnic Kurds whose faith dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, gained global attention in 2014 when fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant captured the town of Sinjar in northern Iraq, forcing nearly 50,000 to flee to a mountain top where they were besieged for weeks.

Their situation is in part what prompted then-prime minister Stephen Harper to join international air strikes against ISIL.

But their fate is now forgotten, said Majed El Shafie, founder of the One Free World group.

Girls as young as nine are sold into sex slavery, tortured, forced to convert or be killed and yet the Canadian government is doing nothing to help, he told a House of Commons committee on Tuesday.

"The government has failed big time in helping them," he said.

"Even if the government brought only nine cases, what will this do to the community that is facing genocide?"

The question of whether what's happening to the Yazidis amounts to genocide will get renewed attention in the House of Commons on Thursday. A Conservative motion will be debated calling for the House to condemn the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL against religious and sexual minorities and to declare the crimes a genocide. …

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