Report reveals plight of Yazidi refugees in Turkey

Report reveals plight of Yazidi refugees in Turkey

Report reveals plight of Yazidi refugees in Turkey

CİHAN photo

A report has revealed the ongoing plight of some 30,000 Yazidi (also known as Ezidi) refugees who have fled from northern Iraq to Turkey after surrounded by brutality of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), with facts and findings exposing the absence of a “durable solution” for them in Turkey.

“Yazidi refugees are barely informed about their status in Turkey, their rights and their future,” said the report launched on July 8 in Ankara by the Association for Research Center on Asylum and Migration (İGAM).

The report stated that the lack of a main communication channel with the refugees limited refugees’ sources of information to cellphones, hearsay and gossip. Rumors regarding “Bulgaria’s possible decision to open the border for Yazidis is a result of such channels of communication,” the report added.

The report came when the plight of Yazidi refugees had almost been forgotten, until a few thousand desperately moved to the Turkish-Bulgarian border on June 27, hoping the gates of the EU would be opened for them. 

Although they came to Turkey in mass influxes, Turkey does not consider Yazidis as people benefiting from “temporary protection.” They can either apply for “International Protection” (regular asylum procedures) or seek humanitarian residence permits. There is no mechanism that explains these complex alternatives and possible outcomes. Neither UNHCR nor any other U.N. agencies has visited the large majority of these refugee settlements in a year. 

According to İGAM, those who spend a lot of money to apply for asylum through UNHCR are given their first interview dates in 2023. 

“Having acknowledged this, many poor Yazidi refugees are not willing to go to Ankara because of a lack of money and little hope of resettlement. Thus, the principle of access to fair and efficient asylum procedures is largely violated. There is no durable solution for them in Turkey since they are still under the trauma of attacks by Islamists,” said the report. 

Mutual misperceptions

İGAM draws attention to mutual misperceptions and mutual lack of confidence between the Yazidis and their mostly Sunni Islamic host communities in its report, the result of quick research in late April 2015. The research was conducted in five settlements in southeastern Anatolia: the Maden Camp in Şırnak (853 persons); Duderan Camp in Siirt (470 persons); Gout Ezidi Village in Batman (160 persons); Koruxe camp in Bitlis (900 persons); and Fidanlık camp in Diyarbakır (3,383 persons) which are all run by municipalities.

It is estimated that after some Yazidis returned to Iraq and some moved to Europe illegally with the help of smugglers, there are currently about 20,000 Yazidi refugees in Turkey. There are two camps operated by the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) in Nusaybin and Midyat hosting 3,706 and 2,375 Yazidis respectively.

The report says that at some stage, some Yazidi refugees rejected moving to AFAD’s Nusaybin Camp because of the division between Muslim-Arab refugees and Yazidis. The camp’s imam calls and other Islamic symbols scared Yazidis about living in such a divided camp, İGAM said.

However, “now the camp is exclusively for Yazidis,” it noted.

In the five refugee settlements where the basic needs of refugees are met by the scarce resources of municipalities, those resources are decreasing quickly, İGAM warned.