London, Jan 12: Kurdish authorities have shut down a key charity that was supporting women and children from the Yazidi minority who have survived Islamic State sexual slavery, a media report said on Thursday.
The decision to abruptly close Yazda leaves more than 1,200 women and children without material, psychological or social support, charity officials and human rights activists have warned. Thousands of Yazidis were driven from their homes in 2014 when IS swept through the Sinjar region, their homeland, The Guardian reported.
The regional government said the charity, which began operating in Sinjar soon after IS captured the region, was being shut down because of a long list of offences, including encouraging Yazidis to leave Iraq, becoming involved in politics and failing to renew its licence.
Local security forces arrived at the charity's compound on January 2, disrupted a meeting with a recently escaped survivor and ordered everyone present to leave before padlocking the gates of the offices. Field projects were closed down at the same time. "We've been trying to open a dialogue with the government, to resolve these issues and get back to work helping survivors badly impacted by this shutdown," said Abid Shamdeen, a member of the Yazda board.
Yazda provides schooling for more than 200 children and healthcare for 15,000 people living in refugee camps, and thousands more who have been driven from their homes but not officially registered as displaced, the Guardian noted. It also provides jobs, livestock and practical support for people in the Sinjar region, where homes and livelihoods were badly damaged by the IS occupation.