A year after Islamic State (IS) militants began massacring Yezidis in northern Iraq, few members of the minority group have claimed asylum in Armenia, even though this country has a Yezidi community that would welcome them.
Three families got out of Iraq in late July, on a direct flight to Yerevan from the Iraqi Kurdish city of Erbil. Hundreds more may follow if they can overcome bureaucratic hurdles along a roundabout route from Turkey via Georgia.
“The Armenian Government was quick to provide them with a refugee status,” President of the Sinjar Yezidi National Union Boris Murazi said at a discussion in Yerevan.
“They have been provided with shelter and food,” Murazi said, adding, however, that Yezidis expect more from the government.
Rashu Hamo, a Yezidi priest whose family is one of the three now in Armenia, said that judging from the historic friendship between the two peoples he was confident he would find a warm welcome in Armenia.
Rashu Hamo added that they face some difficulties in Armenia. One of them is the inability to pay for public utilities. He also expects the Armenian government to arrange the arrival of the other members of his family.
Mission Armenia NGO is also committed to helping the Yezidi refugees. President of the NGO Hripsime Kirakosyan said they have a doctrine, under which they are trying to help all people in need, to provide social support and food.
Ncer Sargsyan of the UNHCR’s Armenia office said the primary issue is to overcome the obstacle of language and thus solve the problem of children’s education.
Remind that on many occasions Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and other senior officials have raised the issue of Yezidis and offered their sympathy to the community. The government has even donated $100 thousand in aid to Iraqi Yezidis.