US Welcomes Baghdad’s Decree to Return Housing, Land to Yezidis in Sinjar
US Ambassador to Iraq Alina Romanowski welcomed on Saturday a joint statement by Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Al-Sudani and the UN to return housing, land, and property rights to Yezidis in Sinjar and other areas.
The Sinjar district, in the Nineveh governorate, is home to the largest concentration of Yazidis in Iraq.
In 2014, ISIS group militants seized Mount Sinjar, and went on to slaughter thousands of Yazidi men and women.
“We welcome the joint statement by PM Al-Sudani and the UN on the government’s decree to return housing, land, and property rights to Yezidis. Proud of US role in funding UNHABITAT program since 2018 that will help thousands of Yezidis return home,” the ambassador wrote in a tweet.
A joint statement was issued Friday by Iraq’s Prime Minister and the UN on the decision to grant Yazidis ownership of their lands in Sinjar after 47 years of denial.
“On 27 December, the Iraqi cabinet approved a decree that contributes to a comprehensive solution for Yazidis with regards to land ownership. The decree grants ownership of residential lands and houses to the occupants of 11 residential collective townships,” the statement said.
“Thousands of Yazidi families in the Sinjar district of Nineveh Governate have been deprived of owning their residential lands since 1975, due to discriminative policies,” the joint statement said.
Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert welcomed “the critical step taken by the Iraqi government, which finally brings the security of tenure to thousands of Yazidis in relation to their housing, land, and property rights.”
She added: “The decree constitutes an official recognition of the ownership of their lands and houses, ends decades of discrimination, and will hopefully ease and encourage the return of Yazidis to Nineveh.”
Since 2018, UN-Habitat has been addressing the land and property rights of Yazidi minorities in Sinjar by registering more than 14,500 claims and issuing land occupancy certificates to prove the occupancy rights of displaced persons.
Commenting on the decree, former Yazidi MP Saib Khadar told Asharq Al-Awsat that the decision to own property is the best thing that happened to the Yazidis in the last two decades.
“It is an achievement and the credit goes to Al-Sudani’s government and the United Nations,” he said.
Commenting on the number of Yazidis displaced to the Kurdistan region from Sinjar, Khader added: “More than half of those Yazidis have not returned to their homes, but the ownership decree can contribute to the return of many of them.”