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Yazidi genocide survivor to international community: verbal support is not enough

This is Salwa, a 20-year-old Yazidi genocide survivor from Iraq. In 2014, she was kidnapped by ISIS and enslaved for five months. After escaping and reuniting with her family, she is now committed to raising awareness about the plight of ethnic and religious minorities in the Middle East. 

Speaking at a recent symposium on defending religious freedom, Salwa assured providing refuge for people like her should not be the main objective, as the community is only yearning for a return and peaceful coexistence in their homeland. 

Yazidi activist

“We need to implement laws to prevent the persecution of minorities. There needs to be legislation protecting these groups.”

The Yazidis are one of Iraq's oldest religious minorities. An historically oppressed group, their persecution has worsened in recent times. Since 2014, the Islamic State and other extremist groups have intensified killings and enslavement of Yazidis, causing the flight of many.

While important voices have spoken out against the oppression, including Pope Francis, most natives are still unable to risk going back. 

Yazidi activist

“We have seen a lot of support in speaking, but we haven't seen a lot of actions. Maybe some things have been done, but it's not enough. We cannot see results on the ground. We are hoping that in the future, more will be done in the area.”

In the last few years, tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced from Salwa's former home, the Nineveh Plains. Thus, this young Yazidi will continue to tirelessly work to transform the region into a safety zone for her and other minorities.