Jewish community brings Yazidis fleeing IS brutality to Canada

Winnipeg’s Operation Ezra privately sponsors refugee families who have been chased from their homes

Two Yazidi families being greeted by local volunteers after a privately sponsored mission called Operation Ezra brought  them to Winnipeg, Manitoba on December 20, 2016 (Nafiya Naso)
Two Yazidi families being greeted by local volunteers after a privately sponsored mission called Operation Ezra brought them to Winnipeg, Manitoba on December 20, 2016 (Nafiya Naso)

After suffering at the hands of Islamic State group militants and being chased from their homes, two Yazidi families arrived in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on Tuesday in an effort initiated and sponsored by the local Jewish community.

The four-member Dakheel family and the Salih family of 11 were greeted by community volunteers with welcome signs and applause at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport on Tuesday, Michel Aziza, a member of the Winnipeg Jewish Community and a co-founder of the Operation Ezra coalition told The Times of Israel.

The families were privately sponsored by Operation Ezra, a multi-faith coalition that originally began as a grassroots effort initiated by the local Jewish community and then expanded to included several local organizations.

In July, Operation Ezra brought the first two privately sponsored Yazidi refugee families to Canada.

Two Yazidi families being greeted by local volunteers after a privately sponsored mission called Operation Ezra brought them to Winnipeg, Manitoba on December 20, 2016 (Nafiya Naso)
Yazidi families being greeted by local volunteers at the airport in Winnipeg, Manitoba on December 20, 2016 (Nafiya Naso)

Yazidis are an ethnically Kurdish religious minority who have suffered at the hands of IS. During a systematic campaign against the Yazidis in 2014 in Sinjar, near Mosul, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 civilians were killed and 5,000 to 7,000 abducted and enslaved, most of them women and children, according to the Global Yazidi Organization.

The Canadian government allows for private sponsorship of refugees, but dictates that sponsors are 100% financially responsible for the refugees for the first 12 months after their arrival in the country. After that, the government bears financial responsibility for the families if needed. Operation Ezra also aims to help integrate those families into the community so that they can eventually sustain themselves.

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