IRAQ: U.S. donates another $500.000 for rebuilding and preserving Lalish Temple, Iraq’s Yazidi national treasure

LALISH, Iraq – The U.S. had donated another $500 thousand to restore the Yazidi Temple in Lalish, Nineveh Governate, Iraq. U.S. Consul Rob Waller announced the gift by the U.S. government on a visit on 21 October 21 to the temple in Lalish village and handed over the Cheque to Yazidi representatives. U.S. Consul Rob Waller expressed the “deep honor to visit this most sacred of place, Lalish Temple” and that this second U.S. grant for the preservation and restoration to “ensure the longevity and preservation of this irreplaceable national treasure.”

Related: Yazidi religious leader Baba Sheikh Khurto Hajji Ismail died at age 87

The Yazidis are an indigenous people to Iraq and have their major population centers in nothern Iraq’s Nineveh Governate, especially in Shingal (Sinjar) and the Nineveh Plain. Through 2014-2017, ISIS occupied and terrorized northern Iraq and committed genocide on the Yazidis and Suraye (Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians).

On the commemoration early August of the Yazidi genocide, the UN Assistant Mission in Iraq issued a statement saying, “The commemorative event was held to ensure the world never forgets how ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as Da’esh, tried to erase the Yazidi community through sexual violence, mass executions, forced conversion and other crimes.” UNAMI head Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said that “Stable governance and security structures are crucial foundations for the community to rebuild and thrive. So, once again, I call on the governments in Baghdad and Erbil to urgently resolve this file, placing Sinjaris’ interests first and foremost.”

Earlier this month, the central government in Baghdad and the federal region of Kurdistan reached an agreement on solving their dispute over Shingal and its administration. UNAMI welcomed the agreement by stating, “New agreement in Iraq signals ‘a first and important step’ toward a better future.” Yazidi organizations complained they were not heard or included in the decision and some of them rejected the agreement.

How and whether the new agreement will yield positive developments for the miserable situation of Yazidis in Iraq remains to be seen. It is however, the first and only real break through after 6 years of neglect and ignoring the deplorable situation of the Yazidis in Iraq – a people the UN officially declared ISIS committed genocide against.

Hopes are it could possible open the way to rebuilding Shingal (Sinjar) and finally allowing IDP Yazidis to return to their rebuild towns and villages. It could also possibly open the way to future Yazidi self-representation in Shingal.