In 2014, tens of thousands of ethnic Yazidis fled to Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq. They were targeted by ISIL, as the terror group occupied Mosul and surrounding areas.
Many of the Yazidis died of starvation and dehydration while displaced.
CGTN’s Meng Qingsheng reports.
They were on their way to Sinjar mountains, where the Yazidis live. They saw from the car window that many villages had been destroyed and abandoned. It isn’t difficult to imagine just what happened there. A memorial place marking those killed and writings on the wall, a reminder of the brutal massacre in Sinjar.
Two thousand Yazidi families are living at the tent camp. Krait Suliman and his neighbors were spending their third winter there. “We need help from the government. Most of the tents here are torn apart. When it rains, the water comes in and runs all over on the ground. And we have no electricity as the generators broke down and need to be fixed. Who is going to help us¡ only god will help us,” Suliman said.
Suliman showed the conditions inside the tent. Basima, his daughter-in-law is worried about her daughter’s worsening health. “My daughter is very sick and requires special treatment. She is paralyzed and can only sit and lie on one side. I have to travel a long distance to take her to the nearest hospital in Dohuk. For each time, I don’t have the money to pay for the transportation. Doctors told me she is already late for a treatment,” Basima explained.
Females in the family prepared food for a religious occasion. Despite lacking basic services, they are among the lucky ones.
On August 3rd, 2014, ISIL militant fighters launched an attack on the Yazidis, a religious community in Sinjar. A survey by PLOS Medicine journal showed about 3,100 were killed, with more than half shot, beheaded or burned alive, and about 6,800 kidnapped to become sex slaves or fighters.
In June 2016, the U.N. formally recognized the killing as genocide. Ever since the massacre in August, 2014, Yazidis have been living on the Sinjar Mountain and living inside the temporary tents. Life has been hard for them, but they are still hoping for a change.
Ibrahin is the coordinator of the displaced Yazidis community at Mount Sinjar. He said that for centuries they have been willfully mistreated for their religion and it’s unfair for peace-loving believers to go through over 70 genocidal massacres.
“We do not feel safe at all, as we have big problems with the government. We don’t have a name or identity in the constitution. We can’t get our papers unless we change the Yazidi identity. Many of our neighbors and forces are those who fought us. We need international protection, and we want a place run by Yazidis within the federal government of Iraq,” Ibrahin said.
In local legend, Sinjar Mountain is the final resting place of Noah’s ark, a vessel used to escape from a world-engulfing flood.
But for those displaced Yazidis, it hasn’t been a safe haven, as they have serious plight to overcome.
Susan Shand on the plight of Yazidis in Iraq
For more on the plight of Yazidis, CGTN’s Susan Roberts spoke with Susan Shand. She’s the author of Sinjar: 14 Days to Saving the Yazidis from Islamic State.