Iraq Kurds close down Yazidi aid organisation

Iraqi Kurdish authorities in areas governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have shuttered a Yazidi aid organisation on Monday after claiming that it had been involved in political activities, violating laws regulating NGOs working in the KRG.

Rudaw, a Kurdish news agency close to the KRG, cited senior official Dindar Zebari as saying that the closure came after Yazda, an organisation that helps Yazidi victims of Daesh sexual enslavement, ignored a warning to abide by the law after it had overstepped the boundaries of NGO work.

In a statement on Monday, Yazda said that Kurdish Asayish security forces had shut down their Duhok office “for unknown reason” and that “this includes all Yazda’s humanitarian projects serving the Yazidi community.”

Reports indicated that Yazda’s office had been placed on lock down by the Asayish, with its doors padlocked to prevent any further entry.

Another KRG official who deals with NGOs, Akram Jamo, said that Yazda was closed down for engaging in unspecified “political activities”, though he denied any knowledge of a warning being given to the Yazidi organisation before it was closed down.

According to Jamo, Yazda’s NGO license had apparently expired, and the aid organisation did not have any grounds for failing to renew its license with the Erbil authorities.

Notable figures in the Yazidi community have denounced the KRG’s decision to close down Yazda, especially UN Goodwill Ambassador Nadia Murad, a former Daesh victim of sexual slavery.

Murad tweeted earlier today that the KRG should allow Yazda to reopen its Duhok offices.

“I call on the [Kurdistan Region] to reopen [Yazda’s] vital work without any delay,” Murad tweeted. “Its [sic] shame to close the Org [sic] that supports my campaign.”

Murad, who was kidnapped by Daesh in August 2014, was named the first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking of the United Nations in September of 2016.

Yazda has provided emergency aid, including psychological care, to Yazidi women and girls rescued from Daesh.