Angelina Jolie is in Iraq with human rights activist and genocide survivor Nadia Murad to highlight the needs of the Sinjar region, eight years after the Yazidi genocide at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS).
The pair visited Nadia’s childhood home and school, as well as a newly built medical centre, clean water and education projects which are underway and other areas where Nadia’s nonprofit (Nadia’s Initiative) is leading recovery efforts.
Both Angelina and Nadia spoke to women and children who survived the genocide, many of whom, like Nadia, are also survivors of sexual enslavement. They’ve returned to Sinjar in the hopes of building a new life for themselves and their families.
“I’m honoured to return to Iraq, this time to support the work of my friend Nadia Murad and other local Yazidis who are rebuilding their lives and communities after enduring horrors,” Angelina shares in a statement.
“I have witnessed the progress they have made, but also the need for long-term international commitment to support their work and leadership. Yazidi survivors continue to struggle with trauma, insecurity, displacement and slow progress on reparations. I met families who are still searching for answers about their loved ones who are missing, and others who still lack support to meet their basic needs. Local people here are working to help themselves. They deserve respect and support.”
According to a release from Nadia’s Initiative, the Yazidi ethno-religious minority community in Sinjar was attacked by ISIS in 2014, “in a systemic attempt to erase them from existence”, with thousands of people killed, hundreds of thousands displaced and more than 6,000 women and children enslaved.
Angelina recently left her role as Special Envoy to the UN High Commission for Refugees in order to pursue a broader scope of humanitarian work.
“I am grateful for the privilege and opportunity I have had to work with so many outstanding and dedicated UNHCR field officers and other colleagues doing lifesaving work globally and to serve as Special Envoy,” she said at the time.
“I will continue to do everything in my power in the years to come to support refugees and other displaced people. After 20 years working within the UN system, I feel it is time for me to work differently, engaging directly with refugees and local organisations and supporting their advocacy solutions.”
(Feature Image Credit: courtesy Nadia’s Initiative)