Joint statement 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
04 January 2023
Thousands of Yazidi families in the Sinjar district of Ninewa Governate have been deprived of owning their residential lands since 1975, due to discriminative policies.
On 27 December, the Council of Ministers 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 the 11 residential collective townships: Khanasur (Al-Tamim), Dogri (Hattin), Burek (Yarmouk), Kohbel (Andalus) in Shimal sub-district/Sinjar district, Tal-Qasab (Al-Baath) in Qairouan sub-district/Sinjar district, and Tal-Uzair (Al-Qahtaniya), Siba Sheikheder (Al-Jazeera complex) and Karzarak (Al-Adnaniya) Al-Qahtaniya sub-district/Al-Baaj district, (Zorava) Al-Orouba and Dohola (Al-Qadisiya) in Shimal sub-district/Sinjar district, and Tal-Banat (Al-Walid) in Qairouan sub-district/Sinjar district.
The Iraqi Prime Minister, Mr. Mohammed S. Al-Sudani, said: "The Iraqi government's decision to grant Yazidi Iraqis ownership of their houses in Sinjar, which they have been deprived of for more than 47 years due to the unjust exclusionary policies by the former dictatorial regime, comes in the context of the Iraqi government's clear and explicit endeavour, to protect the rights of the Iraqi components, especially the beloved Yazidi community in Sinjar and the Ninewa," stressing that this decision "was one of the firm convictions of the Iraqi state, and it was reviewed and presented in partnership with UN-Habitat."
The Iraqi Prime Minister affirmed, "this determination was clear and was demonstrated in the government program and the ministerial agenda that we presented and which the Iraqi parliament approved." He stressed that "the decree, along with other decisions that will be taken later within the Prime Minister's agenda, all aim at protecting the rights of the sons of these honorable Iraqi components, embracing them, and ensuring their rights within the principle of full citizenship, justice and equality."
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, Ms. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert welcomed “the critical step taken by the Council of Ministers, 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 Ninewa”.
The Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Maimunah Mohd Sharif, commended the endorsement by the Council of Ministers of the long-awaited decree. “This step by the Government is promising and encouraging as it promotes access to land rights for vulnerable populations in Iraq and creates great momentum for residents in Sinjar townships to have land rights for the first time. UN-Habitat will continue to support the government of Iraq and different institutions to facilitate the registration of land rights and to formalize the occupancy certificates issued by UN-Habitat into full land ownership titles”.
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.