Fighters walk through a destroyed district of Shingal
Fighters walk through a destroyed district of Shingal

Shingal – Germany´s foreign minister Frank Walter Steinmeier has promised to provide German aid for the reconstruction of destroyed towns in Iraq during his visit to Iraq. According to a report of the Süddeutsche Zeitung Steinmeier met the Iraqi prime minister Haidar al-Abadi in Baghdad and renewed his pledge to provide aid for rebuilding towns liberated from ISIS, which also includes the dispatch of field hospitals.

At least 20 million euros are supposed to be invested in the reconstruction of the Yezidi Shingal region. The region and in particular its same-named city were under the control of the terrorist militia for over a year. The majority of the infrastrucute as well as houses and public buildings have been destroyed while two large Yezidi towns still remain under ISIS control in the south of the region where ISIS began its extermination campaign against Yezidis in August last year. Some of the liberated villages have to be built from scratch. The costs for the restoration are estimated at a three-figure million sum. 

But even after the liberation of the city, a return of over 430,000 Yezidi refugees remains doubtful. Dozens of mines and booby traps have been left behind by ISIS throughout the region. Just a few days ago seven Yezidi Peshmerga fighters were killed by a booby trap which had been set up near Shingal city. Moreover, the fear remains that ISIS may attack again and Kurdish security forces flee as in August last year. The memories of the genocide are still fresh. Mass graves with hundreds of Yezidi victims who – if possible – need to be identified by their families are almost found on a daily basis. The UN have confirmed the discovery of 16 new mass graves alone in Shingal city. 15 others had been previously discovered in the liberated north. More are expected to be found in the southern regions. In the meantime, an increasing number of Yezidis is leaving Iraq and heading out for Europe.

Meanwhile, thousands of women and children continue to be held captive – abducted and enslaved as “spoils of war”, as ISIS refers to them. In captivity, these women, including underage girls are exposed to rape on a daily basis. The UN Commission on Human Rights referred to the ISIS atrocities committed against Yezidis as potential genocide, stating that the terrorist militia´s objetive was to annihilate the Yezidis as a group.

Under the impact of the genocide against Yezidis, Germany broke with its foreign policy doctrine of refraining from delivering weapons to a war zone, deciding to provide Peshmerga units weapons, equipment and training. Germany is one of the leading nations in providing humanitarian aid to refugees in northern Iraq.