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Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:18 pm

Yazidis enter winter in tents

Yazidis in the Serdesht Camp are entering the winter months in tents. Struggling to survive under harsh conditions, Yazidis say the winter months are very hard and called for support

Click on photo to enlarge
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Following the ISIS attack against Shengal on August 3, 2014, many Yazidis settled in the Serdesht Camp. The Yazidi people have been living in tents in the camp for over four years, and are affected by the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter. They are entering the winter months in the tents again this year, and are calling for support.

Wedîha Xelef Mîrza, who has been living in the Serdesht Camp since August 3, 2014, spoke about the harsh conditions they live in. Mirza said they moved 3 times in the Serdesht Camp where they settled after the Shengal massacre: “Life in the tents is very difficult. We can’t even walk when it rains.”

Wedîha Xelef Mîrza said rain water leaks into the tents in winter: “There was a lot of rain last year. Our tents were caught in the rain. The cold in the Shengal Mountain is harsh. We can’t make a living because of the difficult conditions. Our tents haven’t been renewed since we came to the camp. They are very old, and tear up when there is a harsh wind. First rain fell yesterday, and our tents filled up with water. Our children were affected, and our furniture was wet. We can’t lift the tents and reorganize, because if we did they would rip.”

Wedîha Xelef Mîrza called for support and said: “We live under harsh conditions in Shengal, support us. I am calling on all who call themselves human rights defenders. We the Yazidi people have been living in tents for 4 years. We haven’t received any help. This is our fifth winter in the tents. They should come and see how we live.”
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:31 pm

U.S. Assistance Enabling Iraq’s Yezidis to
Return Safely to their Ancestral Homelands


Salwa and her family fled the Yezidi village of Khinsor for the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) in 2014 to escape the savage wrath of ISIS, which was slaughtering and kidnapping thousands of Yezidis as the group swept across Iraq’s Ninewa Province. Salwa’s car broke down shortly after she and her family escaped Khinsor, forcing them to walk for over a day with their worldly possessions strapped to their backs before reaching safe haven in the IKR. While Salwa and her family survived ISIS mortar and rocket fire as they fled, ISIS savagely murdered more than 300 people from their village. Beyond Khinsor and across Ninewa, ISIS killed more than 3,000 Yezidis and took at least 6,000 Yezidis hostage as sex slaves or child soldiers, half of whom remain missing.

With ISIS defeated in the Yezidis’ ancestral homelands, displaced families are now returning to rebuild their lives. In addition to the death and destruction previously inflicted, ISIS also left countless improvised explosive devices (IEDs), landmines, and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) in the areas that they once occupied. These devices indiscriminately kill returning civilians, deny repair teams access to damaged critical infrastructure associated with the delivery of essential social services, block fertile farmland from cultivation, delay economic recovery, and perpetuate ISIS’s reign of terror long after they are gone.

Thanks to assistance provided by the U.S. Department of State, Salwa and other Yezidis who survived ISIS are playing a critical role ridding Sinjar of these dangerous explosive hazards. Salwa leads one of eight U.S.-funded ERW survey and clearance teams fielded by NGO Mines Advisory Group (MAG) in Sinjar. Salwa’s team comprises seven Yezidi women who have received extensive technical training from MAG and currently work across Sinjar to keep local communities safe from deadly ISIS bombs.

The clearance team is motivated by the important role that they play keeping people safe as communities across Sinjar rebuild their homes, temples, schools, and businesses. Salwa’s team recently located and removed two ISIS IEDs from a home in the town of Borek at the foot of Mount Sinjar, enabling the displaced residents to return safely. Another U.S.-funded team recently cleared 21 ISIS IEDs from fertile land next to Route 47, which runs east to west just south of Mount Sinjar. The dangerous work of Salwa and MAG teams across Sinjar is facilitating the safe return of displaced residents, enabling local farmers and shepherds to use agricultural land safely for farming and grazing, and helping to revitalize the local economy.

The United States was one of the first countries to support ERW clearance activities in Yezidi villages liberated from ISIS and is currently the largest international supporter of ERW clearance efforts across Sinjar. The Department of State plans on funding five additional ERW clearance teams in the coming months. These teams will be recruited from villages across Sinjar, trained, and deployed to complement the important work of Salwa and her team. Smart investments in the work of partners like MAG have allowed the United States to provide rapid stabilization support across Sinjar through locally-staffed clearance teams. This assistance is enabling persecuted minorities like the Yezidis to return to their ancestral homelands and rebuild their lives free from the threat of ISIS bombs.

https://reliefweb.int/report/iraq/us-as ... -homelands
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Oct 25, 2018 9:56 pm

Sexual violence against Yazidis:

ISIS foreign fighters should be prosecuted
for genocide and crimes against humanity


Based on findings from the field, a report published today by Kinyat and FIDH describes how the Islamic State (ISIS) legitimised, organised and planned the sexual trafficking of captive Yazidis in Iraq and Syria. The report calls for prosecution of foreign fighters by national and international courts on charges of sexual crimes amounting to genocide and crimes against humanity, in a context where the response of the authorities thus far has been limited to the fight against terrorism.

The report, released today, is based on documentation work by the Kinyat Organization for Documentation, which has been actively documenting crimes committed against the Yazidis since 2014, and a series of interviews with Yazidi survivors and other stakeholders conducted by FIDH and Kinyat during two fact-finding missions to Iraq.

The report highlights the grave crimes perpetrated against Yazidi captives, including at the hands of foreign ISIS fighters. Among the nationalities documented by Kinyat and FIDH: French, German, American, Saudi, Libyan, Tunisian, Lebanese, Palestinian, Yemeni and Chinese fighters.

When ISIS captured Mosul on 10 June 2014, the group started a campaign to "purify" the region of its "non-Islamic" and Shiite communities. On 3 August 2014, ISIS fighters attacked the Sinjar district, forcing 130,000 Yazidis to flee to Kurdish areas. With nowhere else to go, tens of thousands of members of the community were forced to take refuge in the Sinjar mountains, in atrocious conditions. At least 1700 people died due to lack of water, food, shade, and medical equipment.

The Sinjar attack marked the beginning of a brutal campaign to eliminate the Yazidi identity, involving violations committed on a massive scale, forced conversions to Islam, the separation of families and enslavement of surviving women and children, considered as spoils of war. A campaign which, according to FIDH and Kinyat, amounts to genocide and crimes against humanity. ISIS widely publicised the crimes committed against the Yazidis, using them as propaganda to attract new recruits and terrorise civilians.

These crimes were legitimised in advance through a series of religious and legal concepts including sabaya (spoils of war) and especially Al Sabi (capture and enslavement of women and children of the non-believers). This rhetoric was developed in ISIS magazines as well as in religious studies that were specifically devoted to the question of slavery, with a particular focus on sexual slavery.

ISIS also carefully organised and planned the trafficking of Yazidi women and children, who were systematically separated from men. Many captives were sold at slave markets or on specialized websites via applications like Telegram and Signal. One online resale chat group, called "The Great Mall of the Islamic State" had up to 754 members. Here, ISIS fighters could buy women or children, with detailed descriptions of their age or physical appearance, as well as weapons or cars.

More than 6800 Yazidis are said to have been held captive, 4300 of whom have allegedly escaped or been bought back. 2500 members of the community are still believed to be “missing”.

In the last two years, ISIS has been driven from the main cities and territories that it controlled across Iraq and Syria. Thousands of fighters have been killed or arrested. At least 300 have been sentenced to death and hundreds to life imprisonment.

Thousands more have fled. In October 2017, the Soufan Center estimated that 5600 foreign fighters had returned to 33 different countries. When they are prosecuted, it is almost always on the basis of terrorism charges.

These legitimate concerns about security should not overshadow the exceptional gravity of atrocities committed by ISIL fighters, who must also be tried on international crimes charges.

For this reason, the organisations behind this report ask that foreign fighters who joined ISIS’s ranks in Iraq and Syria also be prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity, as ISIS intentionally put in place a policy to eliminate the Yazidi community, including through sexual enslavement and other sexual crimes against women and girls.

Therefore, FIDH and Kinyat call on national authorities to broaden prosecutions to include charges that recognise the reality of the crimes committed by ISIS members as well as guarantee victims access to justice. In addition, they call on the ICC Prosecutor to open a preliminary examination based on the fact that the - often high-ranking - perpetrators of these crimes are nationals of States Parties to the ICC Statute.

https://reliefweb.int/report/iraq/sexua ... nocide-and
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Oct 29, 2018 2:17 am

Yazidi Mothers of Children by ISIS Face Heartbreaking Choices

DAHUK, IRAQ —

The 26-year-old Yazidi mother faces a heartbreaking choice.

Her family is preparing to emigrate from Iraq to Australia and start a new life after the suffering the Islamic State group wreaked on their small religious minority. She is desperate to go with them, but there is also someone she can't bear to leave behind: Her 2-year-old daughter, Maria, fathered by the IS fighter who enslaved her.

She knows her family will never allow her to bring Maria. They don't even know the girl exists. The only relative who knows is an uncle who took the girl from her mother and put her in an orphanage in Baghdad after they were freed from captivity last year.

"My heart bursts from my chest every time I think of leaving her. She is a piece of me, but I don't know what to do," she said, speaking to The Associated Press at a camp in northern Iraq for displaced Yazidis.

The woman spoke on condition she be identified only as Umm Maria, or "mother of Maria," for fear her family and community would find out.

Umm Maria's torment points to the gaping wounds suffered by Iraq's Yazidi religious minority at the hands of the Islamic State group. When the militants overran the Yazidis' northern Iraqi heartland of Sinjar in 2014, they inflicted on the community an almost medieval fate. Hundreds of Yazidi men and boys were massacred, tens of thousands fled their homes, and the militants took thousands of women and girls as sex slaves, viewing them as heretics worthy of subjugation and rape.

The women were distributed among IS fighters in Iraq and Syria and over the following years were traded and sold as chattel. Many women bore children from their captors - the numbers of children are not known, but they are no doubt in the hundreds.

The Nobel Peace Prize this year put a focus on victims of sexual violence and on the Yazidis in particular, when one of the women abducted by IS, Nadia Murad, was named a co-winner of the award.

Many, though not all, of the women have returned home, as the extremist group's "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria has been brought down. While some of them want nothing to do with babies born of rape and slavery, some, like Umm Maria, want to keep them.

But Yazidi families most often reject the children.

That is a reflection the deeply entrenched traditions followed by the Yazidi community, seeking to preserve its identity among the mainly Muslim population, many of whom for centuries viewed the ancient faith with suspicion. The Yazidis, who speak a form of Kurdish, keep their community closed off, their rituals little known.

They have always rejected mixed marriages and children fathered by non-Yazidis. In this case, the stain is even greater since the fathers were the same Sunni Muslim radicals who sought to wipe out the community. Under Iraqi law, the children are considered Muslims.

The community has taken a relatively progressive stance toward the mothers. In Iraq's traditional society, rape can bring stigma on the victim. But the Yazidis' spiritual leader, Babashekh Khirto Hadji Ismail, issued an edict in 2015 declaring women enslaved by the militants to be "pure," with their faith intact. The declaration allowed the women to be welcomed back into Yazidi society.

But not the children.

Khidr Domary, a prominent Yazidi activist, acknowledged that the community's insular traditions need some reform and said the leadership has shown flexibility as it tries to deal with the trauma left by IS, known by their group's Arabic acronym, Daesh. He said mothers should be free to bring back IS-fathered children if they wish.

But "that cannot include reform to accommodate the results of Daesh crimes," he said. Pressure from family and society against accepting the children is powerful.

"It is difficult, even for the mother, to bring a child to live in our midst when it is possible that his Daeshi father may have killed hundreds of us with his own hands, including relatives of the mother," he said.

Umm Maria was taken captive along with other women in August 2014, when the militants stormed Sinjar, near the Syrian border. She was eventually taken to Syria as the slave of an IS fighter, whom she knew only by his alias, Abu Turab.

Abu Turab was killed in fighting in 2015. His family sold her for $1,800 to another militant, an Iraqi she identified as Ahmed Mohammed. He took her to Iraq's Mosul, where she lived with his first wife and their children. Soon after she gave birth to Maria, he too was killed in fighting in 2015.

She was consigned to an IS "guesthouse" where wounded IS fighters received first aid or took a rest from the front lines - and used Yazidi women for sex.

As Iraqi security forces assaulted Mosul, the women at the house were moved from one neighborhood to another to escape bombardment. In the summer of 2017, as the city fell, Umm Maria escaped into government-held territory, though she was injured during the shelling.

At the hospital, an uncle persuaded Umm Maria to give them the child until she healed, promising to return Maria to her afterward.

"Had I known they planned on depositing her in an orphanage, I would have never given her," she said.

Umm Maria has seen the child - now around 3 years old - only once since. Several months ago, she visited her at the Baghdad orphanage, spending two days with Maria.

"She did not recognize me, but I recognized her," Umm Maria said. "How could I not? She is a piece of me."

Many Yazidis see it as more essential than ever for the community to protect its identity at a time when it is struggling for survival. The Yazidis were estimated to number about 700,000 before 2014. Since the IS onslaught, nearly 15 percent are believed to have fled the country, mostly to the West. Nearly half of those still in the country live in camps for the displaced, scattered around northern Iraq.

About 3,000 Yazidis remain missing or in captivity. Of these, experts believe only a third may still be alive.

The Yazidis are also trying to regain their place in a country where the social fabric has been torn apart by IS. Though there were always tensions, Yazidis lived side-by-side with Muslim neighbors in a northern region that is home to many minorities, including Christians and Kurds.

Now Yazidis deeply distrust Arab Muslims, accusing them of sympathizing with IS and even sometimes joining the militants in the slaughter and enslavement of Yazidis. The community also says the central government has not done enough to get back Yazidi women. It was largely left to families to put together thousands of dollars to buy back daughters or wives, or pay smugglers to sneak them out.

"We have become so resentful of Muslims that we now tell our children not to be like Muslims when they are mean to each other," said Abdullah Shirim, a Yazidi businessman.

Shirim is credited with rescuing dozens of Yazidi women from captivity through a network of business contacts, smugglers and bands of bounty hunters.

The community is wrestling with integrating thousands of Yazidi children affected by the war. Those whose parents are missing or dead are usually taken in by extended family, but if relatives can't afford it, they end up in orphanages. Children snatched by IS and raised as Muslims have to be retaught the Yazidi faith. Boys forced to become child soldiers have to be led back from IS's virulently violent training.

Amid those traumas, there is little sympathy for children fathered by militants.

Another Yazidi woman, a 21-year-old who asked to be identified only as Umm Bassam, described how when she left IS territory in Syria in August, she contacted her family and asked if she could bring home her 9-month-old son, Bassam, fathered by the IS militant who held her.

Their reply: "We cannot allow a Daeshi baby to live with us."

Umm Bassam had been in IS captivity for several years. The IS fighter who held her - an Iraqi - took her across the border into Syria in the summer of 2017 as the militants' rule crumbled in Iraq.

In Syria, she gave birth. She, the IS fighter and their child had to flee from town to town as the militants lost ground in Syria. Eventually, the fighter had her smuggled out to Kurdish-held territory, while he fled into the desert along with other militants.

In the Syrian Kurdish city of Qamishli, Umm Bassam ended up in a house with other freed Yazidi women, many of them also with children.

After her family's rejection, she relented and agreed to leave Bassam with Kurdish authorities. They tried to reassure her, she said, telling her the child would be cared for in an orphanage. They said at least 100 children had been left by Yazidi women.

"I was hugging him until the moment they took him away from me," she said. They told her, "Don't worry, in 10 days, he won't remember you or recognize you. We will make him forget everything."

But Umm Bassam remembers - every detail. Her son was chubby and fair-skinned, with a beautiful face, she said. He had a mole below his armpit.

Back among her community, cut off from her son by borders, traditions and officials, she sees no choice now. She will bury it all. She'll get married, she says. She'll build a new family.

"I'll make it like I never saw anything. I'll try to forget everything and start a new life."

https://www.voanews.com/a/yazidi-mother ... 32337.html
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:04 am

Slave trade: Fleeing Isis militants sell Yazidi
captives to fund escape from terror group


Fleeing Isis militants sell Yazidi captives to fund escape from terror group

He had not dared to hope until the pixelated video on his mobile sprang into life and there she was, looking back at him, talking.

Ali, an Iraqi Yazidi man had been sent the one-minute clip of his niece from an Egyptian Isis fighter based in Deir Ezzor, eastern Syria.

It was the first time anyone in the family had seen Layla, now aged 13, since she was separated from her family three years earlier. Every one of Layla's female relatives had been kidnapped as slaves by the militants when they outran the family car as they tried to flee Sinjar in August 2014.

Dressed in a strange hooded black cloak, with her hair pulled back, the teenager’s eyes flicker repeatedly to the left, where off-camera an unknown person appears to prompt her.

“I just want to come home. I’m ok. Can you organise it please uncle?” she asks, her sentences tripping over each other in a harried staccato.

“Please. Do what they say.”

Fast forward three months and Layla is seated, transformed, inside a corrugated-iron shack in an Iraqi displacement camp in Duhok where her extended family now live. She arrived in Iraqi Kurdistan just three days beforehand after enduring a gruelling trip with smugglers all the way from Deir Ezzor. The family were relieved to find out from doctors that she had not, like most of the kidnapped Yazidi women and girls, been held as a sex slave.

She told The Independent she was instead kept as a servant and regularly whipped with electrical cables and water hoses.

Her uncle paid the Egyptian militant $22,000 for her freedom. In fact, the family has paid Isis fighters a staggering $100,000 to buy back seven relatives, including Layla and her mother who was rescued a year early. It has plunged them into unimaginable debt: they owe money to everyone they know.

“The Isis fighter reached out to us first through Facebook then Telegram,” the weary 42-year-old says, speaking in low tones so that his niece, who was playing in the corner, could not hear.

“He just said he wanted to get the money for the girls, so he could use the funds to escape Isis and leave for Turkey.

“This is what they all want now.”

With Isis increasingly corralled into a shrinking “caliphate” in Syria, militants looking for money to escape the jihadi group are exploiting desperate Yazidis by selling back their slaves to raise the funds.

Yazidi activists estimate that millions of dollars have been paid to fighters to secure the release of different captives.

“Isis fighters have become more and more desperate and want to leave the group – so that is why they are selling the girls,” says Talal Mourad, a Yazidi activist and journalist, who tries to help displaced families in the camps.

“The number of girls returning has definitely increased. Last week alone five members of the community, including two children, were liberated and bought back,” he adds.

Typically, the fighters ask for no less than $10,000, Mourad continues. If there are children involved they often charge $30,000 for the family as a “package”.

He said Isis fighters were also buying girls from other militants and selling them back to families for a profit.

“It’s like they are trading in slaves. We know a lot of money is going to Isis but there is no other way to liberate people. No one is helping the Yazidi people, no one is looking for the missing people. What would you do if it was your daughter or mother?”

In total, nearly 10,000 of the ethnic and religious minority were slaughtered or captured in a matter of days in early August 2014, when Isis raged through Sinjar, according to a study published a few months ago in weekly journal PLOS Medicine.

Yazidis were subject to the most brutal treatment by the jihadi fighters who regard them as “devil worshippers” for their belief in a peacock-shaped angel. Thousands were shot dead, burnt alive and beheaded.

Women and girls as young as 12 were taken as sex slaves. Others like Layla were taken away from their mothers and made to work as servants.

Despite the fact that Isis is largely defeated in Iraq and its influence is waning in Syria, there are thought to be at least 3,000 Yazidi women and children still in their captivity.

Thousands more, like Layla’s relatives, live in squalid displacement camps in northern Iraq. They are too terrified to return home to Sinjar due to the presence of their Sunni Arab neighbours, who they suspect of collaborating with Isis and facilitating the massacres. The Iraqi authorities and the local Kurdistan government have few resources to manage the massive displacement crisis in Iraq: more than two million people are currently displaced in the country.

With no one to help find their loved ones, they have turned to unorthodox ways to locate them, working through a complex network of rescuers and smugglers.

One of the most famous rescuers is Abdullah Shrem, who helped liberate little Layla. Before the war, the Yazidi beekeeper used to live in Aleppo, working as an auto trader, until Isis roared into his life.

Shrem’s story starts in 2014 when his own sister and niece were captured by Isis and held as sex slaves. In desperation, he reached out to everyone he knew to locate them and found an unlikely ally in the cigarette smugglers who were risking their lives to get the contraband into Isis territory.

“They were smugglers, so they know the routes and since they smuggled cigarettes, Isis hated them. A love of money was what I relied on. I promised to give them double as much as they would usually make. In the end we managed to rescue my sister and her daughter in 2014,” he says.

After that he helped families who were facing similar troubles. Not all rescues are secured through paying off fighters. Shrem mainly tries to sneak women out secretly and has even helped wives of Isis fighters who want to escape.

“Having been in their shoes already, I did not want to turn them down,” he says.

Since 2014, he says he has rescued over 380 Yazidis using a 10-person network of brave souls. It is extremely dangerous work: over the last four years Shrem has lost six members of his team, including five men and a woman who were executed by Isis during operations to rescue detained women and children in Aleppo, Raqqa and Abu Kamal. He himself has faced death threats from Isis, who sent him photos of his own car as a warning.

    ISIS now ask the smugglers to help them get to Turkey in exchange for sparing the lives of detainees

    Abdullah Shrem, who rescues Yazidis
He say he has noticed a change as Isis territory has shrunk. Militants are now demanding their freedom as payment for the safe release of their Yazidi captives, something Shrem refuses to do.

“Isis fighters will try to negotiate their escape when we are on a mission,” he continues.

“They now ask the smugglers to help them get to Turkey in exchange for sparing the lives of detainees and the smugglers themselves,” he adds.

Smuggling costs – sometimes separate to the funds demanded by Isis – have also shot up as the journey has become longer and riskier. In the past, a 10-man team would ask for just $2,000 to buy gas, weapons, food, satellite phone, and other equipment. Now as the stakes are higher, and the journeys longer, that bill is topping a staggering $15,000.

In a bleak and dusty IDP camp in Duhok, Narin, who was also sold into sex slavery, describes what happened to her after Isis militants stormed her family farm in 2014, and separated the women from the men and the elderly.

Sitting on the floor of a tent, the 25-year-old speaks with a blank face about the unimaginable horrors she has seen.

    I was sold nine times. The youngest girl for sale was just 12 years old

    Narin, former Isis slave
When Isis first came, all her Yazidi male relatives were slaughtered on the spot. The young girls were then dragged screaming to a nearby hall. Sisters were separated from sisters, daughters were ripped from their mothers. The militants lined them up in order of beauty, and so price.

The hardest part was being constantly handed from one fighter to another, not knowing how terrifying the next house would be.

“In total I was sold nine times,” she says, the flat brutality of her words forcing every head in the room to bow.

“The youngest girl for sale was just 12 years old.”

Her brother Sultan finally received a phone call in August 2016, two years into her captivity, and after she had been moved from Sinjar to Mosul and then Raqqa.

The Isis fighter who “owned” Narin was calling the family as he wanted to leave Syria but needed money to escape.

Sultan said the fighter – who was from Algeria – wanted as much as $20,000 for Narin’s freedom but only agreed to release her once the funds had been received.

“We were using Telegram [mobile phone application], every sentence of the conversation was being erased as he wrote it. We didn’t agree on delivery details, we just couldn’t trust him,” he says.

Eventually the fighter sold his sister onto a Saudi man who “traded in women” and had four women in his charge.

The Saudi fighter agreed that payment would be sent after delivery but kept the three other women as hostages.

“He said if the money doesn’t reach him the other girls will be killed. So one by one the girls were released, until they reached my sister.”

In October 2016, after a gruelling journey through frontlines, deserts and mountains, Narin arrived in Duhok: a day that Sultan calls “magical”.

But the relief was short-lived, the family now live in a sprawling IDP camp with limited electricity, no financial or psychological support and little hope for the future. Like every family in this camp, they are still missing relatives (eight in total) and cannot return home to Sinjar.

Narin, meanwhile, has been left on her own to punch through her trauma and try to rebuild her life.

“We had been abandoned by everyone. There is no support from the international community or the Iraqi government. Even though we repeatedly ask, nobody helps us,” she says.

"There is nothing to go home for. The house is destroyed, there are mass graves all around our farm. The world once cared and now it doesn’t.”

A few miles away, in a ramshackle apartment, a similar story was told by another girl Nadia, who was sold as a sex slave to a middle-aged fighter in 2014 when she was just 12.

Nineteen members of Nadia’s extended family were taken by Isis, who shot dead most of the men and sold the women, including her two older cousins, who sit beside her.

Nadia, now 16, opens up about her ordeal, unprompted.

“When they sold me for the first time I tried to commit suicide. I was just 12 years old and they raped me,” she says.

A young Yazidi boy sits outside his tent in a displacement camp Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan (Bel Trew)

“I had a tattoo of my father and my mother’s initials – the militants said it was forbidden and cut the tattoo off me with a knife,” she adds.

She has received no psychological support and her family are penniless. Her brother and father are still missing, presumed dead. Feeling isolated and abandoned in Iraq, the entire family wants to emigrate to Australia: a dream echoed by every family The Independent spoke to.

Back at Layla's house, the family say in that way they have been lucky. Layla’s mother, who was freed a year before her daughter, was granted asylum in Canada with her youngest child. The family’s main hope now is to arrange the reunification of the family.

Layla calls her mother on a battered mobile and the cousins crowd around giggling. It is hard to imagine this normal looking teenager, in a glittery pink top, was just a week ago living under one of the most brutal regimes in the world.

“I thought I would never escape – I thought that would be my life forever,” Layla says after hanging up.

“I haven’t seen my mother since 2015 – I just want to be reunited with her. We can’t stay here, there is no hope.”

*All the names have been changed to protect the identities of the interviewees

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/worl ... 12926.html
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Nov 04, 2018 1:04 am

Yazidis fear 'ISIS' radicals in Greek refugee camp

Having fled the murderous threat of the "Islamic State" (ISIS) group, Yazidi families from Iraq now live in fear in refugee camps in Greece. Judit Neurink reports from Malakasa

"If the Afghans know I am Yazidi, they will burn me alive. They don't see us as human beings." Kheiri Zabri, 37, casts a worried look as his caravan's curtains move in the wind in front of the open window. Since December, he has been living in a camp in Malakasa, just outside the Greek capital, Athens, with his wife Zairan and their three young daughters. There are hundreds of other refugees in the camp, many from Afghanistan and Syria.

Last month, a fight broke out one night in front of his caravan involving a hundred or so Syrians and Afghanis. A 31-year-old Syrian refugee was killed, and eight others were wounded. Dozens of those involved were arrested by the Greek police. The small camp is overflowing with people seeking refuge, with newer arrivals living in tents as extra housing is constructed.

Zabri told DW that neither the police posted outside the camp nor the army from the base next door interfered and he and his family now live in fear, as do the other three Yazidi families in the camp seeking asylum. They are all members of an Iraqi religious minority that was persecuted by ISIS.

Fighting against ISIS

In the camp, large groups of single men live next to families. "They play football at 3 a.m. We cannot even complain, as they attacked our neighbors when they did," Zabri said. But there is more to it than bullies scaring other refugees. In Iraq, Zabri did not show fear when IS attacked their village on August 3, 2014. His was one of two Yazidi villages where the men stood up to the radicals. The villagers fought until they ran out of ammunition, losing 40 men, two of them family members. Another cousin was beheaded in Mosul.

He found refuge in a camp in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, but left when his trust in the Kurds' commitment to keeping the Yazidis safe was shattered after Kurdish troops quit the province of Sinjar just before IS arrived in 2014. And even though seven family members lost their lives in 2015 crossing the Aegean from Turkey to Greece, last year Zabri again set aside his fear when he boarded a smugglers' boat with his wife and child. "We decided it was better to die, if we could not live in safety somewhere else."

But it seems they've moved out of the frying pan into the fire.

"Many people here are the same Daesh we fled from," Hussein Khidher, 29, told DW, using the Arabic name for IS. Word in the camp is that the attacker who killed the Syrian man last month was with IS.

"They call us kafir, unbelievers," his wife Ilhan added, working on the tiny kitchen unit to prepare a simple lunch of meat and rice. She recounts the warning she received from a Syrian woman in the camp, who had fled the Syrian town of Deir el-Zour, which is under IS control. "She warned me not to speak badly about Daesh in public, as there are so many of them here."

Radicals stoke fears in camps

Her husband remembers the conversations he overheard while waiting in line for food at the Moria camp on Lesbos, where they spent their first two months in Greece. During Ramadan, radical Muslims in the camp tried to punish people for not fasting, which led to an exodus of Kurds and Yazidis, some of whom ended up in the Malakasa camp.

Khidher, who speaks Arabic and Farsi, heard Arabs and Afghans call others unbelievers. "They even called Greece and other European countries the home of unbelievers. So why do they want to be here? Because their governments are looking for them, as they are criminals."

Ayad Khidher Khano, 27, arrived in the Malakasa camp a year ago. He was a "kitchen boss" in the Lesbos family camp. "The situation there is the same as in Sinjar," he told DW. "The Daesh we had in Iraq are now here. I can show you someone who planted bombs in Falluja." Falluja was the first city IS captured in Iraq in 2014.

The memory of seeing 27 members of his extended family killed by IS in Sinjar in August 2014 is still fresh in his head. "And they used knives, to save ammunition."

The call for prayer sounds loudly over the camp from a tent in the corner that is being used as a mosque. "I am proud to say I am a Yazidi. But not here. Here I say I am Kurdish," Khano said. The other families do the same, only telling translators they trust about their real identity. Yet his Syrian neighbor from Deir el-Zour recognized him from the red and white thread around his wrist, a Yazidi custom. "He told me our women are under their control in Syria, that his brother has one as a slave."

Apart from killing over 6,000 men, IS kidnapped over 6,000 Yazidi women and children and forced them to become slaves and fighters. Only half of them have so far been able to escape, and most of the Yazidi families in the Malakasa camp still have family members who are missing.

Authorities ignore threats

Khano says he reported the threats and his fears for his family's safety to aid organizations and the Greek Ministry for Migration. "But nobody takes care of us. They say: 'We cannot do anything for you.'"

When asked, Carolina Nikolaidou, International Organization for Migration (IOM) spokeswoman in Athens, pointed out that the Greek authorities decide which refugee goes where. But she suggests that Yazidi families posing as Kurds may have led to some confusion. In order to calm things down in the Malakasa camp, the ministry is planning to move some nationalities out, but it is not yet clear if this move will involve the Yazidis.

Greek media reported that after the riot in the Malakasa camp, the authorities looked into claims that Islamic radicals connected to IS were involved, but did not find any concrete proof. On Lesbos, Greek police told the Ekathimerini.com website that "498 foreign nationals had been arrested for various crimes since the beginning of the year, but none had credible links to Islamic terrorism."

Yazidi activists, aware of the IS threat, have tried to secure a way out. But when European Parliament members helped arrange for 700 Yazidis in Greek camps to be taken in by Portugal, the deal broke down because the EU and the Greek authorities refused to give special treatment to particular groups of refugees.

https://www.dw.com/en/yazidis-fear-is-r ... a-46101410
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 07, 2018 3:27 pm

Monument humanitarian disaster relief
expert works with persecuted Yazidis in Iraq


With humility and a deep-seated passion for helping the poor and hungry in their time of need, Monument resident Michael Parks is making a difference in the lives of people around the world by “facilitating heroes” in crisis areas.

Parks serves as the director for disaster response for Global Hope Network International, a small international aid organization focused on helping devastated communities rebuild through aid, training, and community leadership.

“Global Hope Network (International) is what we call a relief and development organization where we work in disaster regions usually in areas where there’s little or no other assistance,” Parks said. “We take our disaster response and move it into long-term development because ultimately we want to see transformation, positive transformation in impoverished communities.”

Parks said his focus is not only on providing people in crisis with the immediate aid that they need but also on giving them the training they need to rebuild their lives using a “Transformational Community Development” model. Parks said he works with amazing people who step up to improve their communities after disaster or crisis.

“We have a model of development that we use that works well that we can transition over time,” Parks said. “In a nutshell, what we do is we train and coach a community to be able to identify their problems,” Parks continued. “They identify their problems, they set the priorities and then (they) form committees within that community to be able to resolve those problems with locally available resources so that within three to five years we’re able to extract out of the equation and they’re able to continue on being released and free from poverty.”

Parks is working with Yazidi people in Iraq, among others. Yazidis are a religious group originating in the Mesopotamian region, the majority of whom live in Iraq. The ancient Yazidi religion is heavily focused on angels, and some Islamic groups consider the religion to be a form of devil worship. ISIS extremists persecuted the Yazidi people severely for their beliefs by killing, raping and stealing.

Despite their situation, Parks said the Yazidi people are resilient, kind and equitable, and willing to move forward to rebuild their lives

“Most people are very nice and the Yazidi people are extremely nice, some of the easiest people I’ve ever worked with, and I’ve been doing this for a long time now,” Parks said of the people he has met in Iraq.

Parks began his international humanitarian work with an impromptu missions trip to Mexico where he loaded up his van with supplies and volunteers and drove all the way from Kansas to provide aid. His experience with extreme poverty and suffering during subsequent trips to places like the Philippines, China and Sudan sparked his desire to help the suffering people of the world in their greatest time of need. Parks was a Boeing engineer, a minister, and a small-businessman before transitioning into humanitarian work.

“I just remember seeing people dying right there,” Parks said of one of a volunteer trip to Sudan that solidified his passion for humanitarian work. “So I went back and kind of wrapped up some things up with Boeing and quit and that was the transition.”

Though difficult to summarize all that he has experienced during his time providing assistance to people in extreme crisis, Parks said he has learned that nearly everyone in the world, regardless of culture, religion, or country, want and need unconditional love and that an expression of compassion and strategic assistance can change lives.

“The world is a tough place, it’s hard,” Parks said. “Wars, famines, disasters, they just keep coming, and it’s always going to be there and there’s always going to be (a tremendous need) for compassion and love.”

When at home in Monument, where he has lived since 2000, Parks juggles family life with his wife and five children, and actively networks and fundraises to support the organization and its missions around the world.

Parks is in the process of organizing a trip to Iraq in January. He plans to bring Monument residents with him, including an Iraq War veteran.

To donate to Parks’ efforts to help the Yazidi people, or to learn more about the organization and its current projects, visit ghni.org or call 407-207-3256

https://gazette.com/thetribune/monument ... 26dbd.html
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:01 am

Sinjar: Three years on Yazidis have nowhere to return to

Three years since Sinjar was retaken from Islamic State group, more than 200,000 people, mostly Yazidis, remain displaced in northern Iraq and abroad, with no homes to return to

While the plight of Yazidi victims was highlighted last month through the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Yazidi survivor Nadia Murad, the city remains largely uninhabitable. Unlike elsewhere in Iraq where reconstruction is slowly happening, in Sinjar it never even started. Meanwhile Sunni Muslim neighbours are afraid to return, fearing reprisals from community members or local security forces.

The Norwegian Refugee Council is releasing interviews with Yazidi survivors from Sinjar.

“Three years since the retaking of Sinjar from Islamic State group, this place is still a ghost town,” said NRC’s media coordinator in Iraq, Tom Peyre-Costa, who collected the interviews. “Streets are empty, you barely see anyone. Hundreds of thousands of Yazidis are still displaced across the country and cannot come back because of security issues and also because of the lack of basic services such as water and electricity. There is an urgent need to rebuild schools and hospitals otherwise this place is going to stay empty.”

NRC’s needs assessment in Sinjar found that it urgently lacks health centres, schools and security. People who fled from Sinjar also report high levels of psychological distress requiring long term psychosocial support.

https://www.nrc.no/news/2018/november/s ... to-return/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:09 am

Rehabilitated hospital improves access to healthcare in Sinjar

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has launched activities in Sinuni General Hospital, in Sinjar district, Iraq, in collaboration with the Iraqi Directorate of Health, to help cover the urgent need for secondary healthcare services for people returning to the region

MSF has started activities in Sinuni, the most densely populated town in Sinjar district, after observing that very few services existed beyond primary healthcare, with emergency, maternity and paediatric services notably absent.

For people living across Sinjar district, accessing quality healthcare services has been incredibly difficult since the area was taken over by the Islamic State group (IS) in 2014, and the subsequent military offensive to retake the area.

“Access to healthcare in Sinjar has been drastically compromised by severe damage to medical infrastructure, the displacement of health professionals, and ongoing insecurity in parts of the governorate” said Morris N. Ramnaps, MSF’s field coordinator in Sinuni.

Since July 2018, MSF has been supporting Sinuni General Hospital, rehabilitating and running the emergency department. This includes an ambulance service for referral to follow-up care, and the only maternity facility equipped with an operating theatre in the area.

“The number of patients in the maternity is increasing since we reopened the service. We are now seeing an average of 25 deliveries in our facility every week,” said Priscillah Gitahi, MSF’s medical team leader in Sinuni.

MSF teams have also reported that due to the history of violence in this part of Iraq, Yezidis sometimes feel uneasy and reluctant to accept medical referrals to far-away facilities in cities like Mosul or Tal Afar.

By the end of 2018, MSF will start providing mental health services in Sinuni due to the high demand and need for trauma-related psychological counselling, psychiatric care and pharmacological treatment of mental illness in the region.

“MSF is also working to increase access to follow-up tertiary care, as 90 per cent of the referrals from Sinjar to facilities in other regions are supported by MSF,” explained Ramnaps.

Since the end of the military offensive in November 2015, people have been relatively slow to return to Sinjar. The number of people currently living across the district is close to 100,000 – made up mostly of Yezidi community members. Before the crisis, the district had a multi-ethnic population of around 400,000 people.

Slow returns in Sinjar district are caused by a number of factors, including the extensive destruction of infrastructure and homes in the district, especially on the south side of Mount Sinjar, and the very limited access to basic health and education services.

MSF has been working in Iraq since 1991. With more than 1,500 staff, MSF provides free, quality healthcare for all people regardless of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.

MSF delivers primary and secondary healthcare including services for expectant and new mothers, treatment for chronic diseases, surgery and rehabilitation for war-wounded, mental health support and health education activities.

We currently work in Erbil, Diyala, Ninewa, Kirkuk, Anbar governorates and Baghdad.

https://www.msf.org/iraq-rehabilitated- ... r-district
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 14, 2018 1:54 am

200,000 Yazidis remain displaced

"When the Islamic State group attacked our village, we fled. We stayed on Sinjar mountain for eight days. I saw children and older people die from thirst and exhaustion."

Aveen, 20, and her family fled when IS group took control of the Iraqi city of Sinjar on 3 August 2014. After years in displacement, they are among around 6,000 families who have finally returned home.

Three years have passed since the Iraqi government regained control of the city. Still, more than 200,000 people remain displaced in northern Iraq and abroad, with no homes to return to. Most of them belong to the Yazidi religious minority.

Home, but not living

For two years, Aveen’s family lived in an unfinished building in Dohuk, about 150 kilometres further north. Now they are back home, but life is nothing like it used to be.

"We are home, but we are not actually living, there is nothing here," she says. "We don’t have water, schools or hospitals. Pregnant women have died because of a lack of maternity healthcare."

Ghost town

Around 70 per cent of buildings in Sinjar were damaged or destroyed during the operations to retake the city. Today, it’s a ghost town. Those who decided to come back live in dire conditions, with the feeling of being left aside.

"Streets are empty, you barely see anyone. Hundreds of thousands of Yazidis are still displaced across the country and cannot come back because of security issues and lack of basic services such as water and electricity. There is an urgent need to rebuild schools and hospitals, otherwise this place is going to stay empty," says the Norwegian Refugee Council's (NRC) media coordinator in Iraq, Tom Peyre-Costa.

Hundreds of thousands still displaced

Hundreds of thousands of Yazidis now live in displacement camps scattered across Iraq's northern Kurdistan region. In Bajid Kandela camp, white tents stand in long neat lanes, flanked by abandoned cars.

Base Khalaf, 60, has lived here for four years now.

"Islamic State killed one of my sons four years ago. I’ve still not been able to visit his grave. It’s difficult to go back to Sinjar – it’s not safe and the journey is very long," she says.

Life in the camp is hard. There is little water and electricity. "Now, winter is approaching," she says, "and so is the rain, the cold and the wind. These tents will barely protect us. I wish I could go back home, but I can't."

No reconstruction

While the plight of Yazidi victims was highlighted last month through the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Yazidi survivor Nadia Murad, the city of Sinjar remains largely uninhabitable. Elsewhere in Iraq reconstruction is slowly happening, but in Sinjar it never started. Meanwhile, Sunni Arab neighbours are afraid to return, fearing reprisals from community members or local security forces.

"Everywhere in the town reminds me of the day when IS came," says Aveen."Yet no one cares, no one asks how we are, or if we need anything."

Our work

NRC is present both in the city of Sinjar and in displacement camps around Dohuk. In the camps, we support Yazidi children to deal with trauma and psychological distress through educational and recreational activities.

In camps and in Sinjar, we support families in retrieving essential documentation such as identity cards and property deeds, which are essential for them to be able to rebuild their homes. We support youth with vocational skills training to strengthen their chances of finding a job.

Through our community centre in Sinjar, we facilitate and coordinate a comprehensive humanitarian response between partner organisations and communities, to ensure that urgent needs are met.

"What we do in Sinjar is a good start, but it is far from being enough. Yazidis must not be forgotten. It is time for the international community to understand the extent of the needs. They must invest as much in the reconstruction of Sinjar as they did in the military operations against IS group," says Peyre-Costa.

https://www.nrc.no/news/2018/november/s ... displaced/
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