The closure of a charity providing treatment to traumatized Yazidi women rescued from the extremist Islamic State (IS) group in Iraq is damaging their chances of recovery, the charity's head said on January 4.
The Yazidi-led charity Yazda, based in the Iraqi city of Dohuk, had been providing aid and mental health care since 2014 to Yazidi women and girls who were raped and enslaved by IS.
Yazda's executive director Murad Ismael said its offices were shut down on January 2 by Kurdish authorities who accused the group of being illegally involved in "political activities."
Ismael said the accusations were "baseless" and that many women's lives are now at risk because they can no longer receive psychological treatment for their trauma.
The closure was condemned by Human Rights Watch.
While there are other aid groups in the region, Ismael said survivors felt more comfortable talking to Yazidi counsellors about their experiences.
He said many rescued women would have committed suicide if Yazda's therapists were not there to help.
Thousands of women and girls were abducted, tortured, and sexually abused by IS fighters after the militants rounded up Yazidis around Sinjar in northwest Iraq in 2014.
While some have escaped, as many as 3,500 remain in captivity,