Safe Return

Speeches Shim

The Safe Return team is dedicated to providing crucial services to help internally displaced persons from minority communities and who are survivors of severe human rights abuses successfully reintegrate.
The Safe Return team is dedicated to providing crucial services to help internally displaced persons from minority communities successfully reintegrate.
HAI for USAID

USAID’s Safe Return project aims to reintegrate internally displaced persons from minority communities in the Ninewa Plain and Sinjar who are survivors of severe human rights abuses.

Project Snapshot

  • Partners: Heartland Alliance International with Alliance of Iraqi Minorities/Hammurabi, Commission for International Justice and Accountability, Iraqi Health Access Organization, Yazda
  • Project Duration: August 2018 – September 2021
  • Locations: Bashiqa, Qaraqosh, and Sinjar
  • Budget: $7.2 million

Context

The occupation of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in northern Iraq resulted in mass executions, torture, and forced displacement of religious and ethnic minority groups, including Yezidis, Shabbak, Turkmen, Christians (both Chaldean and Assyrian), and Roma. Nearly 5,000 Yazidi men were killed in Sinjar alone and thousands of Yazidi women and children were captured and taken prisoner. Turkmen and Shabbaks faced threats, abductions, and even death and the Christian population in Iraq has been reduced by more than half since 2013. With the liberation of ISIS controlled territory, approximately 4.8 million Iraqis have already returned home, while another three million remain internally displaced. Many of those displaced are minorities and include representation from diverse religious and ethnic groups and are survivors of human rights abuses. Helping reintegrate internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Iraq remains a unique challenge, due to the lack of infrastructure and social services needed to support these marginalized communities’ safe return home.

USAID Response

USAID’s Safe Return project aims to reintegrate IDPs from minority communities in the Ninewa Plain and Sinjar who are survivors of severe human rights abuses. Through our local partners, Safe Return has established three Safe Return Centers in Bashiqa, Qaraqosh, and Sinjar to provide survivors with comprehensive medical, mental health, and psycho-social services, as well as assistance with livelihood recovery and legal support. USAID funding is also supporting the Smile of Hope torture treatment center in Mosul. USAID also assists IDPs in pursuing justice against their ISIS perpetrators and has trained community-led volunteers on advocacy and implementing community-based reporting systems in their communities.

Achievements to Date

  • 3 Safe Return Centers are operational in Bashiqa, Sinjar, and Qaraqosh, providing comprehensive medical services to nearly 10,000 beneficiaries since the beginning of 2020.

  • 640 survivors of severe human rights abuses received legal support.

  • 20 community-based monitors were trained in providing early warning and advocacy in project locations.

  • Ongoing support to build legal cases against ISIS for 27 Yazidi survivors.

Last updated: February 26, 2021

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