History, Help & Hope: The Ezidi Re-Settlement in Armidale 

Australia has a long history of accepting refugees from global conflicts through its humanitarian settlement programs. In August 2017, the Turnbull Government announced that the NSW city of Armidale would become the newest regional settlement site. As a result, Armidale has now become the home of more than 300 refugees fleeing religious and political persecution in Syria and Iraq. It soon emerged that the refugees were members of the Ezidi ethno-religious minority, a group that has experienced genocide and other atrocities at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIL, ISIS or Daesh).  

The Ezidi (or Yazidi) people are a Kurdish religious minority who have primarily lived in areas of northern Iraq, south-eastern Turkey, northern Syria, the Caucasus region, and parts of Iran. The Ezidi religious sect incorporates elements of ancient Iranian religions as well as features of Judaism, Nestorian, Christianity, and Islam. Their traditions, culture and religion are passed orally from generation to generation, in part as an attempt to avoid the forms of religious persecution they have suffered for centuries. Unfortunately, the tendency of the Ezidi belief system to stray from Islamic norms has often led them to be viewed as apostates and, thus, violent religious clashes have often ensued.

Following the expulsion, flight and exile of the Ezidi people from their ancestral lands by ISIL, the Australian Government (alongside America and Britain) made emergency airdrops to rescue the fleeing Ezidi population. Despite their situation and the trauma they have experienced, Armidale’s Ezidi population have now become empowered, self-determined members of the local community. The intimacy and idyllic nature of the Armidale region has not only helped ensure that the Ezidi refugees have had a soft landing into Australian society, but it has also allowed these individuals to feel a sense of power in shaping their own futures – something they have often been denied.

In an attempt to embrace the Ezidi people and the socio-cultural diversity they bring to the region, at the Comfort Inn Armidale we are doing our part to help by offering the Ezidi people employment in our Minnie Barn Restaurant. Under a full kitchen staff of Ezidi refugees, the Minnie Barn Restaurant has quickly become Armidale’s local hotspot for authentic intercultural Middle-Eastern Cuisine. By facilitating culinary traineeships, we are not only allowing members of the Ezidi community to get their foot in the workplace, and the chance to gain qualifications that will carry them forward in their careers, but we are also helping showcase their exquisite cuisine to the New England region!