In 2014, genocide of religious and ethnic minorities became a key component of the ISIS offensive in Northern Iraq. Many of the people from villages overtaken by ISIS, who were not killed or enslaved, fled to the province of Dohuk in Iraqi-Kurdistan and remain living in internally displaced people or refugee camps. In the Dohuk area there are 22 refugee and IDP camps housing more than 225.000 people. As a consequence of the violence, thousands of people from the region fled to Germany where they are now living as refugees.
Back to Life aims to empower 840 women from vulnerable groups living in the Dohuk region with skills in communication, literacy, finance and handicrafts. These skills will enable them to create a better future for themselves and their families, supporting their reintegration into society and financial independence. Back to Life will implement activities with women from Khanke IDP and women who have returned to the region from Germany at a learning center in central Dohuk.
600 women will take part in interactive women empowerment and reconciliation workshops, acquiring valuable life skills and knowledge in topics such as human rights and how
to be economically independent. Further, needs based literacy and business courses will take place, engaging 120 women over the course of the project. The weekly course will allow the women to lay the foundation for their future and that of their children by learning to read and write. Further, it will enable the women to market and sell clothing and other products they produce. Workshops in the production of traditional handicrafts will similarly be implemented to increase the economic and social independence of the women. 120 women will be directly empowered, learning to use sewing machines to produce traditional products. Further, the participants will gain leadership skills and utilize established employment pathways to
earn their own income.
Generously supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the HAWAR.help Back to Life Empowerment Center will host courses in sewing and literacy as well as empowerment workshops at Qadiya IDP Camp, which is a camp, that is located far away from the next big city and main roads. The opportunities for women to leave their everyday life are almost none. Therefore, it is needed to find activities within the camp, to escape from the daily routine. Having been through the unthinkable – losing their homes, villages, families and dignity to ISIS – these women will have the opportunity to define their own futures through Back to Life. The courses will be taught by women of diverse faiths for women of diverse faiths, marking an important step forward in the healing process.
There are still over 3200 women and children in the hands of ISIS. A few of them return from IS captivity day by day, such as the twelve-year-old Martine, who was freed only a few weeks ago, after a four-year martyrdom that she suffered. In captivity, she was repeatedly sold, abused and enslaved. Out of eight family members in captivity, including her mother and siblings, she is the only survivor the father could hug. Her video-print out of the first encounter went around the world in social media.
This 12-year-old girl, who was only enslaved at 8 years of age through no fault of her own and repeatedly abused, and all other victims of IS imprisonment are all our dedication. The world community must not forget or even look away from this ongoing genocide and the fate of these women and young girls.
At the end I would like to emphasize, how important it is for our organization to focus on them to give them a name and face. Now they can finally hope for a better future.