Turkish air strikes block the return of Yazidi refugees

In the past four years, some 80 Yazidi civilians have become "collateral damage" of Erdogan's bombs against the PKK. About 350,000 Yazidis are still internally displaced and more than 100,000 have left Iraq. For activist, Sinjar is “turning into a war zone" and the population is “suffering under unimaginable conditions in displacement camps”.

Erbil (AsiaNews) – Yazidi refugees have been prevented from returning home as a result of repeated and indiscriminate attacks by Turkish planes across the border in northern Iraq, including Kurdish areas.

Under the pretext of attacking Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) bases, Turkey’s air force has been pounding the Sinjar region for some time, causing serious damage and making the whole area unstable.

As a result, representatives of the Yazidi community have called on the international community to provide protection from Erdogan’s bombs.

Since 2017, some 80 Yazidis have become the victims of “collateral damage” from Turkish air strikes against PKK targets in Iraq where many of its fighters found refuge. Turkey considers the PKK a terrorist organisation.

Many Yazidis “did not leave Sinjar despite all the tragedy that befell them,” Yazidi leader Saad Hamo told al-Monitor, a news website. “We are looking for other ways to convince those who remain in the displacement camps in Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to return.”

Some 350,000 Yazidis are internally displaced in Iraq and more than 100,000 have left the country permanently. Members of this religious group have suffered the most under the yoke of the Islamic State (IS), when the jihadi group ruled parts of Iraq and Syria between 2014 and 2017, before its military defeat and the liberation of most of the territories it controlled.

One of the latest Turkish air raids took place on 2 February, when planes hit several positions on Mount Sinjar controlled by local Yazidi People's Mobilization Units (PMUs), not the PKK.

Iraq has repeatedly condemned Turkish military operations within its territory, but has failed so far to stop Turkish attacks and aggression.

Today Yazidi leaders have spoken out against the violence, demanding an end to military operations and guarantees for a safe return to their homes; otherwise, their presence and their future in Iraq will be "at risk".

Many already believe that a safe and dignified life in the country is "impossible" today, especially in the Sinjar area.

For Activist Murad Ismail, founder of the Sinjar Academy, the community is "losing hope". In his view, “This is a direct result of the failure of Iraq and the international community to create a safe space for our people to recover from genocide” by the Islamic State.

“Instead of creating hope for a deeply traumatised community and instead of healing our wounds and bringing some justice to the lost lives of 10,000 Yazidis, Sinjar is turning into a war zone.

“More than half of our people are still suffering under unimaginable conditions in displacement camps and may never be able to return.”