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Displaced by Islamic State, Yazidis Find Harsh Conditions in Turkey

Since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2012 and the rise of IS in Iraq and Syria, Turkey has been overwhelmed by people fleeing both countries

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Displaced Iraqis from the Yazidi community gather at a park near the Turkey-Iraq border at the Ibrahim al-Khalil crossing on Aug. 15, 2014. (VOA)
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  • Hoping for a safe haven after fleeing the Islamic State in Iraq, many Yazidis who came to Turkey are instead finding a difficult and uncertain life
  • Only Syrians are granted the right to temporary protection because Iraq is not considered a continuing war zone, like Syria
  • Even though Kurdish forces in northern Iraq have retaken Yazidi enclaves from IS, many of them refuse to return saying their houses are destroyed and they fear a return of Islamic State militants

October 11, 2016: Hoping for a safe haven after fleeing the Islamic State in Iraq, many Yazidis who came to Turkey are instead finding a difficult and uncertain life.

Confined mostly to Kurdish municipality-administered camps, they lack official refugee status which leaves them in a legal limbo with no rights. They too lack access to needed medical care because they are officially not recognized as refugees.

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“We don’t even have the right to be treated at state hospitals,” said Simo Xwededa, a Yazidi man who were settled with his family in a camp in Diyarbakir. “My 5-year-old daughter had a heart disease and she needed a surgery. No hospital would take her in.”

The daughter, who is back in the camp, was given medical care in a hospital in Istanbul after a Kurdish benefactor paid $7500 for her treatments.

“Our situation here is really miserable,” Xwededa said. “Our children don’t receive proper education and it doesn’t seem that we’re going back home anytime soon.”

Yazidi women cry as they attend a demonstration at a refugee camp in Diyarbakir, Turkey, to mark the second anniversary of what a U.N.-appointed commission of independent war crimes investigators termed a genocide against the Yazidis in Iraq on Aug. 3. 2016. (VOA)
Yazidi women cry as they attend a demonstration at a refugee camp in Diyarbakir, Turkey, to mark the second anniversary of what a U.N.-appointed commission of independent war crimes investigators termed a genocide against the Yazidis in Iraq on Aug. 3. 2016. (VOA)

Since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2012 and the rise of IS in Iraq and Syria, Turkey has been overwhelmed by people fleeing both countries. Turkey is hosting some three million displaced people, including 2.7 million Syrians and is calling on the international community to help with the burden.

Yazidis, a minority sect in the region, represent a trickle of the displaced living in Turkey. About 30,000 Yazidis fled to Turkey after an IS massacre in northern Iraq in 2014, according to the Turkish Research Center on Asylum and Migration which monitors numbers of displaced people in Turkey.

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Many have been settled in the camps of municipalities run by the pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party. Some of them live in the same houses in Yazidi villages that Yazidis had abandoned decades earlier when they moved from Turkey.

Even though Kurdish forces in northern Iraq have retaken Yazidi enclaves from IS, many of them refuse to return saying their houses are destroyed and they fear a return of Islamic State militants.

A young Yazidi girl, who lives at Turkey's Diyarbakir camp, pauses to have her photograph taken. (photo courtesy of Omer Eryılmaz) -(VOA)
A young Yazidi girl, who lives at Turkey’s Diyarbakir camp, pauses to have her photograph taken. (photo courtesy of Omer Eryılmaz) -(VOA)

Turkish officials say they are overwhelmed by the numbers of Syrian refugees and are struggling to provide proper help for Yazidis.

“They are not properly taken care of in Turkey,” said Ali Atalan, a Yazidi member of the Turkish parliament.

Yazidis say they are reluctant to be settled in Syrian refugee camps run by the Turkish government.

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“They think that those in the Syrian camps are relatives of Islamic State militants,” Atalan said. “They are scared.”

Yazidis too are caught in a maze of legal arguments over their status in Turkey that have left them in a bureaucratic limbo.

“Only Syrians are granted the right to temporary protection because Iraq is not considered a continuing war zone, like Syria,” a Turkish immigration official in Diyarbakir told VOA.

Metin Corabatir, president of the Ankara-based migration research center, disagrees, saying Yazidis should be treated equally to Syrian refugees.

“According to Turkish law, temporary protection may be provided for foreigners who have arrived at or crossed the borders of Turkey in a massive influx situation seeking immediate and temporary protection,” Corabatir said.

Omer Eryilmaz, a health official who worked at a Yazidi camp in Diyarbakir, said Yazidis continue to seek legal status but are facing legal obstacles.

“Last year, we applied for humanitarian residence permits for 20 Yazidis,” he said. “Only one was granted. We applied for the permit on behalf of 1,050 people last month and are still awaiting the results.”

In the meantime, some Yazidis have left Turkey illegally for Europe. Others have made their way back to Iraq despite their fear. There is no official count as to how many Yazidis remain in Turkey.(VOA)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)