Vatican City, 8 January 2015 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father received in audience a delegation from the World Community of Yezidi, according to the director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J. The delegation was led by the Head of all the Yezidi, Mir Tahsin Said Ali Beg, and their supreme spiritual Head, the “Baba Sheikh”, Sheikh Khato, both resident in Iraqi Kurdistan. The group also comprised three representatives of the Yezidi of North Iraq, Georgia and the diaspora in Germany.
During the meeting, which lasted approximately half an hour and took place in the private library of the Apostolic Palace, the delegation thanked the Pope – indicated by one of the delegates as the “father of the poor” –for his support for the Yezidi in this time of persecution and suffering. They informed the Pope of the situation of around five thousand Yezidi women reduced to slavery by the ISIS, and emphasised the good relations between Yezidi and Christians, emphasising their mutual solidarity. Pope Francis assured the delegates of his spiritual closeness and his support in these challenging times, and expressed his hope that soon it will be possible to restore justice and the conditions for a free and peaceful life for the Yezidi, as well as all other minority groups who are the object of discrimination and violence.
There are around one and a half million Yezidi throughout the world, of whom half a million are in Iraq; there are others in Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, and in diaspora in many other countries.