Nobel Laureate Nadia Murad addresses the 'Investing in the Future' conference. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

Sharjah: Iraqi Nobel Peace Prize winner and human rights activist Nadia Murad said the international community has failed to protect minorities but should not fail to reconstruct the damage and rebuild the Sinjar province in Iraq that is home to the Yazidi ethnic minority that she belongs to.

In her first public address speaking engagement since the release of her memoir, The Last Girl: My Story of Captivity, and My Fight Against the Islamic State, which documents her horrific experience as a captive by Daesh, Murad called on the world to unite to help Yazidis return to their home.

“World leaders said we need to protect minorities but the international community hasn’t helped minorities go back to their areas. The international community should not fail to reconstruct Sinjar and should hold all the perpetrators accountable for their crimes against Yazidi minorities,” she said.

She made the remarks as a keynote speaker at the ‘Investing in the Future’ conference’, which seeks to address the challenges facing youth.

“My survival case comes with a purpose and obligation, which is why I have launched the Nadia’s Initiative, an organisation dedicated to helping women and children who have been victimised … My initiative is trying to get support the needed to get Sinjar rebuilt,” she said.

Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Nadia Murad, and Hessa Bint Essa Buhumaid at the 'Investing in the Future' conference. Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

She added that both governments and non-government organisations share the responsibility to join her in her efforts. “If we are united we can make a difference and help the victims.”

The situation in the province in northern Iraq is dire as the villages have been reduced to rubble and the majority of Yazidis continue to live in camps. Although the areas were liberated from Daesh a year ago, there has been no reconstruction.

Murad voiced her concern for the struggle faced by more than 3,000 Yazidi women and children, who remain in captivity.

“The world witnessed a campaign of ethnic cleansing in August 2014. Thousands of innocent people were murdered and thousands were held captive where they endured unspeakable acts of violence. We lost an infinite number of people,” she said. “

Having been chosen as a laureate for the Nobel Peace Prize, she said it “comes with responsibility to face challenges to be an echo in speaking up against genocides. I have the responsibility to translate peace and stability or future generation. Not one Daesh terrorist was held accountable for what was perpetrated against our women”.

She added: “I represent young women, who don’t have access to such platform to say what needs to be said. We have to work together in order to prove that genocidal campaigns will fail and lead to accountability of the perpetrators and bring justice for survivors.”

Born in the Yazidi village of Kocho, high in the Sinjar Mountains of north Iraq, Murad was barely 21 when Daesh extremist group overran her little hamlet in August 2014. Along with other girls in her tiny village, she was made a sex-slave and exploited by the militia.

Before being taken away, she witnessed the slaughter of her Yazidi community. Daesh killed hundreds of people in Kocho, including six of Nadia’s brothers.

 

Who is Nadia Murad?

■ Nadia Murad is an Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist who lives in Germany.

■ In 2014, she was kidnapped from her hometown of Kocho and held by Daesh for three months.

■ Murad is the founder of Nadia’s Initiative, an organisation dedicated to “helping women and children victimised by genocide, mass atrocities, and human trafficking to heal and rebuild their lives and communities”.

She and Congolese gynaecologist Denis Mukwege were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”.

■ She is the first Iraqi to be awarded a Nobel Prize.