TBILISI, DFWatch–More than 50 Yazidis have fled from Iraq to Georgia and applied for political asylum here.
DF Watch September 3 organized a discussion about the situation.
Dimitry Pirbar, head of the Religious Council of Yazidis in Georgia, said he had been to Iraq several times and has witnessed how Yazidis there are being persecuted by Muslims. For the last fifteen years this conflict has been a part of everyday life. But he the persecution became more intense and brutal with the advent of ISIS. Yazidis are forced to change their belief, or be killed. Pirbar told these stories in detail during the discussion.
One of the refugee Yazidi from Iraq also attended the discussion, but in accordance to international law we cannot identify him until his refugee status is resolved. As for Yazidis who came to Georgia, he says that no-one is persecuting them in Georgia and that’s why they came here. Before they came to Georgia they had been to Turkey and didn’t have liveable conditions there. Also there, Muslims began to be aggressive towards them.
Irakli Lomidze, head of Asylum Department at the Refugee Ministry, says it will take time to decide whether to grant the Yazidis refugee status, because their cases must be researched individually. He says he assumes that it won’t be a problem to grant them refugee status, because there is no danger in sheltering them here, no danger to statehood or to society. But he also says it will take months to review each application and make an individual decision.
Pirbar says the refugees are living here with the assistance of local Yazidis, but this cannot last long.
Another problem is that they have children who know neither English nor Georgian, but Lomidze explained that they will be allowed to go to Georgian schools even without having status as refugees.
But the most important issue, according to Pirbar, is stricter visa rules which came into force on September 1. Most of the Yazidi reguees don’t even have ID cards; they didn’t manage to bring them during the escape.