Country Reports

Sinjar, Two Years after the Catastrophe

by Nils Wörmer, Laura Henselmann

CHALLENGES AND OBSTACLES TO THE RETURN OF THE YEZIDIS

Two years after the massacres committed by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) against the Yezidis, the situation in their home region of Sinjar has not improved significantly.

The liberation of Sinjar in November 2015 and the recognition of ISIS crimes as an “on-going genocide” by the UN have been important achievements. Despite this progress however, more than 300.000 Yezidis still live in refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Their return to Sinjar is impeded by the lack of reconstruction in Sinjar, the Yezidis’ loss of trust in the Sunni Arabs and Kurds, their proximity to ISIS frontlines, as well as the uncertain political future of the region. Sinjar is an example of Iraq’s political problems: The weak central government in Baghdad faces a large number of conflicting actors, all of which try to promote their own interests in the region. This hampers the reconstruction and stabilisation of areas liberated from ISIS, which, in turn, increases the risk of an armed conflict along new fault lines and of a continued deterioration of state structures in Iraq. Reconstructing liberated areas and overcoming political conflicts in areas such as Sinjar should thus represent a continuous priority for German policies towards Iraq.