21 Jun 2016
Rescuing Families from ISIS-Led GenocideTopics:
In August, 2014, a horrific ISIS attack on Yazidi towns in Northern Iraq created a humanitarian crisis that Canadian executive Michel Aziza (MBA 1991) couldn’t ignore. “This is the latest chapter in a long history of persecution for the Yazidis,” explains Aziza, who put aside his job as managing partner of a tech firm in Winnipeg to help Yazidis leave refugee camps in Syria and Turkey to start new lives in Canada.
Five hundred members of this ancient ethno-religious minority were killed by ISIS in the 2014 onslaught. Women and girls were raped and enslaved, and 50,000 more people fled to remote mountain hideouts where many died before relief efforts reached them.
“They are genocide victims,” states Aziza, who now works full time with Operation Ezra, an initiative led by the city’s active Jewish community that has raised enough money—just over $200,000—to sponsor seven Yazidi families. Aziza’s main tasks have been fundraising and working with community and government officials to create a process that will facilitate the sponsorship of more families.
“We’d love to have the funds to do something on a larger scale,” says Aziza, an outspoken critic of the slow pace of official international relief efforts. “But saving even a few lives in the midst of a humanitarian disaster is an extraordinary opportunity.”
(Published June 2016)
Class of MBA 1991, Section D