France to help formerly captive Yazidis after meeting with Nobel winner Murad

by Heba Kanso | @hebakanso | Reuters
Friday, 26 October 2018 18:24 GMT

2018 Nobel peace prize co-recipient Nadia Murad Basee Taha discusses with French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting at the Elysee palace in Paris, France, 25 October 2018. Etienne Laurent/Pool via REUTERS

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France will help resettle the women who had been held captive as sex slaves by Islamic State militants and now live in refugee camps

By Heba Kanso

BEIRUT, Oct 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The president of France has agreed to take in 100 formerly enslaved Yazidi women after meeting with Nadia Murad, a survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner, supporters said on Friday, saying the honor helps strengthen her fight for fellow Yazidis.

France said it would help resettle the women who had been held captive as sex slaves by Islamic State militants and now live in refugee camps in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.

Murad was one of about 7,000 Yazidi women and girls captured in Iraq in August 2014 by the militants who view the religious minority as devil worshippers.

After being tortured and raped, Murad escaped and has become a campaigner for the Yazidi people, winning the Nobel Peace Prize this month.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Murad met in Paris on Thursday, and he said afterward that 20 women are expected to be taken in by France this year and the rest in 2019.

In a statement, he said he commended her fight for survivors of sexual, ethnic and religious violence.

"Awards like the Nobel Peace Prize help to put these connections at the forefront of the global news agenda," said Brita Fernandez Schmidt, head of Women for Women International, a non-profit group that supports survivors of conflict, including Yazidi women in Iraq.

"On the global level, her focusing attention on the issues of sexual violence in conflict will hopefully help Yazidi women move forward and give them the help they need," said Schmidt.

Murad escaped after three months in captivity and now lives in Germany.

Campaigning before the United Nations Security Council and before governments worldwide, she has been appointed a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador and written a book entitled "The Last Girl" about her experience.

"She has been a leader fighting for Yazidis for more than four years. Attention has been paid, which is great, and people are listening," said Ahmed Khudida Burjus of Yazda, a charity that helps survivors, and director of Nadia Murad's Initiative, a group that works with Murad.

"There is real change happening because of Nadia's strength in fighting for Yazidi women and the community," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "She is something incredible."

(Reporting by Heba Kanso @hebakanso, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst

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