Today marks the fourth anniversary of the Yazidi genocide perpetrated by ISIS. Although the group has been defeated in Iraq, the devastating effects of its actions linger. Many Yazidis are still living in displacement camps in northern Iraq, in severe social, economic and psychological deprivation.
Four years ago, tens of thousands of innocent Yazidis were forced to abandon their homes and livelihoods in Sinjar, northern Iraq, after the area was attacked by murderous ISIS militants. Those who were unable to flee faced forced religious conversion, enslavement, sexual violence, torture and execution. Those who fled to Mount Sinjar were trapped without food, medicine or water, until they were later evacuated.
Although ISIS has now been defeated in Iraq, a large number of Yazidis are still living in displaced people’s camps in northern Iraq. Many have lost their homes. Many are afraid to return after the unimagineable violence perpetrated by ISIS.
Sever lives in Essian camp, north of Mosul, with her husband, Khalil, and four of their children. When ISIS attacked in 2014 she and her children were captured. Her sons were forced to learn to read the Quran, and if they couldn’t they were beaten. Her three oldest children were cruelly taken from her.
“They were literally dragged from my arms – I tried to protect them, I was kicking the Daesh terrorists and doing everything I could but they took them. They beat me and attacked me for trying to protect my children.”
They remain missing. Her 14-year-old daughter, Noura, is being forced to live with a man. She is one of the thousands of Yazidi women and girls who remain missing. He says he’ll release her if the family pay US$20,000, but they do not have the money. Sever does not know the whereabouts of her two sons. “It breaks my heart every single day”, she says.
Longer-term assistance to those living in the displacement camps must be provided: vaccinations to prevent epidemics, medication to treat chronic health conditions, access to education for children to ensure their futures are not lost. Sever’s younger children are now able to attend school. She says “this is really helping them to overcome their experiences.”
Since the crisis unfolded in 2014, AMAR has been working on the ground across Iraq providing vital humanitarian relief, as well as establishing long-term care in camps. It also runs the Escaping Darkness programme, which provides psychosocial care to women and girls who have escaped ISIS.
Dr Subhi is a doctor working in an AMAR clinic in Essian camp. He sees more than 100 patients a day. “So many of them are missing relatives, living in terrible conditions and so their suffering just doesn’t end.”
Your generous donations have already helped us to deliver day-to-day essential aid, as well as to set up a health care centre in Khanke Camp. Please help us to reach even more vulnerable families who have lost everything – your donations will make a huge difference to the lives of those in need.