NEWS
02/21/2017 09:08 EST | Updated 02/22/2018 00:12 EST

Things to know about the Yazidi people and Canada

OTTAWA — The Canadian government is announcing a plan to bring in as many as 1,200 Yazidi refugees by the end of the year. Here are some facts about the Yazidis and their plight.

Yazidis are a Kurdish-speaking minority of about 800,000 who dwell mainly in northern Iraq. They practice an ancient religion which they say is the oldest in the world. Their beliefs have drawn the wrath of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which considers them heretics deserving of persecution.

In the summer of 2014, ISIL opened an assault on northern Iraq and subjected the Yazidis to a reign of terror. Men were executed, boys were taken from their families to be indoctrinated as child soldiers. Thousands of women and girls, some of them pre-teens, were forced into sexual slavery. They were bought, sold and traded among Islamic fighters and subject to repeated rapes.

Last summer, a United Nations commission formally levied an accusation of genocide against ISIL for its abuse of the Yazidis.

Last fall, the House of Commons unanimously adopted a Conservative motion calling on the government to resettle an unspecified number of Yazidi women and children within four months. The government's announcement Tuesday comes on the eve of the expiry of that deadline.

The government says it will admit 1,200 Yazidis, including family groups, by the end of the year, with 400 to have arrived by Wednesday.

It also says it will facilitate private sponsorship of Yazidis and other victims of ISIL.

— The program is expected to cost $28 million, including transportation, income support and settlement needs.

Quote: "Our operation aims to bring to Canada those at the greatest risk and to give them the support and services they need to make a new home and to restart their lives here." Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen in prepared remarks.