JIAS's Response to the Yazidi Refugee Crisis

The Yazidis are a religious minority that suffered a genocide at the hands of ISIS in 2014. Most of the men were killed, and nearly 7,000 Yazidi women and girls were enslaved and brutalized by ISIS fighters. Those who survived experienced sexual slavery, torture, family separation and forced displacement.

Canada welcomed more than 1400 Yazidi refugees, mostly women and girls, as Government Sponsored Refugees (GARs). Unlike privately sponsored refugees, GARs do not have the benefits or support system that come with private sponsorship. Studies have shown that GARs take more time than privately sponsored refugees to integrate and succeed in Canada.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) approached JIAS to provide sponsorship and settlement support for Yazidi refugees. Given the significant trauma they experienced and the low levels of education and literacy among the population, there were several priority areas including recruiting interpreters, providing mental health support, developing literacy and life skills training, matching volunteers with Yazidi clients, and providing cultural sensitivity training to volunteers and staff.

Our extensive work with the Yazidi community has made us a trusted partner with the federal government, and JIAS is often consulted by organizations serving Yazidis or other vulnerable refugee populations to share best practices. With the financial support of IRCC and a private donor, JIAS will continue to work with and provide specialized programming and support for Yazidi refugees.