Weaving A Brighter Future

Khazal, Ibtisam and Flous were total strangers before ISIL attacked their villages near the Yazidi town of Sinjar in 2014. Four years later, these internally displaced persons live in Khanke, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where they work together in Khanke’s Carpet Factory. They have formed strong bonds of friendship, sharing their joys and sorrow while weaving carpets for a brighter future.

“We take comfort in each other’s company here. We work together. We laugh together, and sometimes we pour out our hearts out to each other,” says Khazal, a 57-year-old woman from Til Ezeir, south of Sinjar, who fled in 2014 with her family. “We all come here to work and earn money to support our families.”

Established in 2018 by IOM with the financial support of the German Federal State of Baden-Württemberg, the aim of the carpet factory is to increase economic and social opportunities for vulnerable women and to contribute to sustainable local economic development.

“The project aims to integrate Kurdish wool and carpet products into the local value chain and to facilitate the distribution of manufactured products in the local market. We are focusing on Kurdish carpets for now, but we hope to produce kilims [flat-woven carpets] at the factory in the future,” said Bradly Mellicker, IOM Iraq’s Return and Recovery Coordinator. “In addition to the women working in the factory, the project will also benefit local farmers, weavers, wool-spinners and other entrepreneurs dealing with raw wool and wool products in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.”

Having fled Sinjar, the women had escaped the fate befallen thousands of other Yazidi women at the hands of ISIL from slavery to sexual abuse; but not the trauma, nor the difficult reality of unemployment. Yazidi families are in urgent need of employment opportunities because they are unable to return home due to ongoing security concerns, damage to their homes and public infrastructure and the lack of adequate services.

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