France grants refuge to 31 Yazidi families after presidential intervention

It came following a promise by Emmanuel Macron to Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad

Laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize and Iraqi Yazidi Nadia Murad gives a speech during a commemoration ceremony in Stuttgart, southern Germany, on August 3, 2019. The Central Yazidi Council in Germany commemorates the 5th anniversary of the genocide of the Yazidi in August 2014 when fighters of the Islamic State (IS) killed thousands of Yazidi in Iraq. / AFP / THOMAS KIENZLE
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France has taken in 31 Yazidi families, who suffered at the hands of ISIS. The women and children flew in from Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan to Toulouse airport on a flight organised by the UN’s migration agency and paid for by France’s government.

The French interior ministry said it came as part of a commitment by President Emmanuel Macron to Nadia Murad, the Yazidi activist and Nobel Peace Prize 2018 winner. He promised her France would host 100 Yazidi families.

France also welcomed 16 families last December and another 28 in May this year. They will be given protection, education, medical and social support a statement by the French interior ministry said.

“This approach reflects the renewed will of France to establish, in connection with the Iraqi authorities, facilities for the reception of victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East,” the statement said, adding the French government would continue to work towards the restoration of territories liberated from ISIS.

The Yazidis are a religious minority with unique beliefs that distinguish them from Muslim and Christian worshippers in the region.

ISIS, who seized control of north Iraq in 2014, said the Yazidis were "apostates" and killed hundreds of men while enslaving and sexually abusing thousands of women and children. The attacks were described as genocide.

Ms Murad, who escaped from ISIS in 2014, recently urged her fellow Yazidis to return to their homeland in Sinjar, northern Iraq.

More than 90,000 Yazidis have already returned to Sinjar “but we need even more to return there so as to thwart ISIS’s plan to chase them out from Sinjar,” she said in Stuttgart, Germany earlier this month.

Some 150,000 Yazidis live in Germany, which adopted an open-door policy in 2015 amid an influx of migrants to Europe. In turn, far-right parties inflaming anti-migrant rehtoric have gained strength in the polls.

Of the world's 1.5 million Yazidis, roughly 550,000 were living in the remote corners of northern Iraq before ISIS’s brutal assault in 2014.

It pushed around 360,000 Yazidis to flee to other parts of Iraq, including the Kurdish region, where they live in displacement camps.

According to authorities, more than 6,400 Yazidis were abducted by IS and only half of them were able to flee or be rescued, while the fate of the others remains unknown.

Ms Murad has also caused for Kurdish and Iraqi authorities to compensate the Yazidi people.

Some Yazidis have been unable to return home, with their families rejected them because of the sexual abuse they suffered from ISIS.