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Coming back to life in Sinjar

Almost four years ago, tens of thousands of Yazidi people were forced to flee Sinjar, in north west Iraq, after being subjected to appalling violence. Returning takes courage, and determination. Aishan Haider is trying to restart her life, living with two other families in a partially destroyed house. But she has lost so much more than bricks and mortar: many of her family members are still missing.

“We lost everything. We lost our livelihoods, men, children, and even our honour,” says Aishan.  “They took away five men from our house. From then on, we knew nothing about them.”

Aishan is trying hard to create a normal life for her family, but Sinjar is anything but normal. Much of the town is destroyed, its infrastructure and economy are in ruins.

“Now, I stay at home all day long and do not know what others do,” she says. Everybody wants to make a living while there are no jobs at all.”

Only around 30 per cent of the population has returned so far. Others, like Abu Hasan, remain in makeshift camps on the mountain. Abu Hasan has been in the camp almost four years.

“Our houses are still in rubble. The villages have not been cleared of IEDs,” says Abu Hasan. “I went to my house twice. An IED close to it has not been removed until now. My two-floor house was levelled to the ground.”

And yet, from the rubble of Sinjar, life is returning. The resilience of its people is inspiring. Sherin Shafin is a nurse, she has a fierce pride in her community, and she is now dedicating herself to supporting it.

“Women lost their husbands, they had to stay up on the mountain,” says Sherin. “Some had to give birth without medical help. I am so proud of them. I consider this territory to be sacred.”

For other women and girls in Sinjar, however, resuming life in the place where they experienced violent trauma feels almost impossible. Sharihan, who has lost family members, and was abducted during the fighting, is one of them.

“I live here with my family, apart from my mother and brother,” she says. “I have no job. I want to rest and get out of this place. I want to take my family away and abandon this area.”

Perhaps one day, with the support of neighbours like nurse Sherin, Sharihan will have the strength to start again. Sherin at least has faith that Sinjar’s people will overcome the challenges.

“People coming to Sinjar are always impressed with our community. In spite of the mass killings in Sinjar, the community remains united. Our society respects its norms and traditions.  Although the displaced families stayed in camps for four years, they maintained their dignity and cohesion.”

Facts and Figures ICRC Sinjar, Iraq

In 2018 the ICRC has provided cash assistance to almost 2000 displaced families still living in tents on Sinjar mountain.

The ICRC has opened a satellite office in Sinuni, Sinjar district, and is responding to protection and assistance concerns there.

To find out more about the ICRC’s activities in Iraq go to: https://www.icrc.org/en/social-media-dashboard/country/iq/iraq

Download this footage from ICRC Video Newsroom

 www.icrcvideonewsroom.org

For further information, please contact:

Ralph El Hage, ICRC Amman, Tel: + 962 7 7845 4382

Saleh Dabbakeh, ICRC Baghdad, Tel: + 964 78 278 949 89

Iolanda Jaquemet, ICRC Geneva, Tel: +41 79 447 37 26

Follow the ICRC on facebook.com/icrc and twitter.com/icrc

SHOTLIST

Location: Sinjar, Iraq

0:00 – 0:18 Various destroyed buildings Sinjar centre

0:18 – 0:25 Aishan Haider in part ruined home

0:25 – 0:39 Aishan showing pictures of missing relatives on mobile phone

0:39 – 0:58 Soundbite Aishan Haider (Arabic Original) “We lost everything. We lost our livelihoods, men, children, and even our honour. They took away five men from our house. From then on, we knew nothing about them.”

0:58 – 1:11 Various Aishan in kitchen preparing flatbread

1:11 – 1:21 Soundbite Aishan Haider (Arabic Original) “Now, I stay at home all day long and do not know what others do. Everybody wants to make a living while there are no jobs at all.”

1:21 – 1:33 Two men in burnt home

1:33 – 1:50 Various Sinjar camp on Sinjar mountain

1:50 – 2:16 Soundbite Abu Hasan (Arabic Original) “Our houses are still in rubble. The villages have not been cleared of IEDs. I went to my house twice. An IED close to it has not been removed until now. My two-floor house was levelled to the ground.”

2:16 – 2:20 Street scene Sinjar

2:20 – 2:24 Mural on wall of tree and slogan ‘And we came back to life’

2:24 – 2:29 Two men playing backgammon

2:29 – 2:34  Sinjar street, traffic

2:34 – 3:07 Various Sherin arriving and working at clinic

3:07 – 3:22 Soundbite Sherin Shafan (Arabic Original) “Women lost their husbands, they had to stay up on the mountain. Some had to give birth without medical help. I am so proud of them. I consider this territory to be sacred.”

3:22 – 3:35 Various Sharihan at window, with picture of her mother

3:35 – 3:54 Soundbite Sharihan (Arabic Original) “I live here with my family, apart from my mother and brother. I have no job. I want to rest and get out of this place. I want to take my family away and abandon this area.”

3:54 – 4:00 Sharihan being comforted by Sherin

4:00 – 4:33 Soundbite Sherin Shafan (Arabic Original) “People coming to Sinjar are always impressed with our community. In spite of the mass killings in Sinjar, the community remains united. Our society respects its norms and traditions.  Although the displaced families stayed in camps for four years, they maintained their dignity and cohesion.”

4:33 – 4:53 Various Sherin taking patient’s blood pressure

4:53 – 5:04  Various Sinjar market

5:05 – 5:16 Pan over panorama Sinjar 

Length: 5:16

Format: HD H264 mov

Producers: Various

Camera: Ibrahim Sherkhan

ICRC ref: AV842N_Iraq: Sinjar 

Date: 07.05.2018

Copyright: ICRC access all


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