Organisations and Experts Call For Joint Efforts to Find The Missing Yazidi Women and Children With The #BringBackTheYazidis Campaign 
[London/Washington DC, September 14, 2021] On September 14, 2021, and as the 76th session of the UN General Assembly opens, over 80 organisations and experts, in a joint letter, called upon several world leaders to ensure the missing Yazidi women and children are located and reunited with their families. In August 2014, Daesh (also known as ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State) unleashed a genocidal campaign against Yazidis, Christians and others. Among the atrocities, they abducted and enslaved thousands of women and children, including for sex trafficking and sex slavery. Seven years after Daesh abducted them from Sinjar, Iraq, 2,763 Yazidi women and children are still missing and their fates are unknown. Despite this significant lapse of time, no real effort has been made to locate them, and if alive, ensure that they are rescued and reunited with their families.
The joint letter calls upon world leaders to work with partners to conduct an official search to identify the whereabouts of the missing women and children, including in the Al-Hol camp in Syria where many are believed to be held; work with local partners to free all Yazidi women and children who are alive and ensure that the remains of those killed are returned to their families and given a dignified and honourable burial. Seven years after the atrocities, these actions are long overdue but urgently needed.
Dr Ewelina Ochab, co-founder of the Coalition for Genocide Response, co-author or the letter, remarked: “We cannot ensure justice for the Yazidis without finding the missing women and children. If alive, they continue to be subjected to horrific atrocities that need to be put to an end. The world may have moved on from the Daesh atrocities but these women and children continue to live them every day. This Daesh genocide will continue until the women and children are located and rescued. If they were killed, their families deserve to know what happened to them. They will not be able to proceed with their lives if they continue waiting for their return that is not coming.”
Knox Thames, former U.S. Special Advisor for Religious Minorities at the State Department, and co-author of the letter said: “Seven years have passed, but the international community still has not organized a search for the 2,763 missing Yazidi women and children. Without action, words of support for the kidnapped Yazidis ring hollow. It’s time the international community got serious about locating the missing Yazidi women and children kidnapped by ISIS. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and the United Nations should lead an effort to find these lost souls before another year passes.”
Pari Ibrahim, Founder and Executive Director of the Free Yezidi Foundation, and co-author of the letter, said: “Nothing is more agonizing and frustrating to the Yezidi community than waiting and wondering about the missing. We are realistic, and we know that not every missing Yezidi is still alive. But for those who are still suffering slavery and abuse every day, the international community must make a serious, coordinated rescue effort. We are calling for an ‘Amber Alert’ for our missing Yezidis. This year FYF’s top priority, seven years since the Yezidi Genocide began, is: Bring Back Our Women & Girls.”
Abid Shamdeen, Executive Director of Nadia’s Initiative, co-author of the letter, commented: “The Yazidi community has been calling for the search and rescue of nearly 3,000 women and children who are still missing and in captivity. Their calls have been met with silence from the governments of Baghdad and Erbil and the international community for over seven years. The longer we wait to create a joint task force to search for those missing, the more we signal to these Yazidi women and children that their wellbeing does not matter. Now is the time to act. Now is the time to show those missing and their families that they have not been forgotten.”
In the UK, the letter was delivered in person by Lord Alton of Liverpool, peer at the UK House of Lords, Dr Ewelina Ochab and Jess Templeman from the Coalition for Genocide Response. As Lord Alton emphasised: “I am honoured to support this important initiative calling for the search and rescue of the missing Yazidi women and girls. It is unacceptable that seven years after the abductions, this step has not been taken. These women and children deserve better. Their families deserve better. We, as the international community, must do better.”