Fleeing the Islamic State - Part 1, the Yazidis

Topaz ?
Author Topaz ?

This is a collection of photos from more than a year of covering the Islamic States rise in Iraq. Some of these images were published by GlobalPost at the link below. They show minorities fleeing as Islamic State militants overran their home towns. Tens of thousands still live in displacement camps in Kirkuk and the Kurdish regions of Iraq.

The #Nineveh plains of northern #Iraq are home to a diverse mix of #minority ethnic and #religious groups. Their roots, their #heritage, their homes and their most holy shrines are all right here in this brutal but beautiful land known as the cradle of civilization. But now, three of these minorities, already persecuted for centuries, have come under the most severe threat to their existence in decades.

For more than a year, the #IslamicState have been attacking villages of #Yazidis, #Shabaks, and #Christians. As the militants continue to push forward toward the #Kurdish capital #Erbil, they have left in their wake hundreds of thousands of displaced families. Some say those they capture are being forced to convert or die. Others speak of mass executions and kidnappings of women and children. With the havoc wreaked in these areas and families left homeless and even starving, facts are hard to ascertain, but Tracey Shelton has been on the ground documenting the plight of families as they flee into uncertainty.

YAZIDIS

In August 2014, the Islamic State launched a sudden an unexpected attack on Yazidi villages in the area of Sinjar. They killed or kidnapped more than 7,000 men and boys and captured around 5,000 women and girls to be used as sex slaves for fighters or sold to men in markets in Iraq and Syria. Thousands more fled on foot to the mountains.

As families fled into the mountains, the Islamic State shelled their path. Months later the roadside on route to the mountains was still strewn with discarded possessions and bombed vehicles.

Hundreds arrived at the Holy temple of Lalish seeking shelter. This woman described what happened.

 “The IS attacked us by mortars and bombs,” she said. “When they entered the city they were covering their faces. They killed so many people. I saw the bodies. I saw so many people die.”

Protests erupted in the cities as Yazidi families demanded action from the government to fight for the return of their women.

Assad Haig lost 63 members of his family when the Islamic State took over his village. He holds documents of the names of those still dead or missing. See his full story below on NBC News.

Thousands of Yazidi families still live in abandoned buildings, on construction sites, in schools and even in parks or by the roadside.

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