Members of the Yazidi minority community in northern Iraq, targeted for genocide and sexual slavery at the hands of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), feel abandoned by humanitarian groups and governments that have shifted their attention to the growing number of displaced persons escaping the Iraqi city of Mosul, reports Rudaw.
The Kurdish news outlet’s report echoes a recent assessment by the human rights watchdog group Amnesty International, which argued that the international community has forgotten Yazidi survivors of ISIS atrocities, including women and girls who escaped imprisonment and rape by members of the jihadist group.
A U.S.-backed coalition of tens of thousands of Iraqi military forces, Kurdish Peshmerga troops, Sunni tribesmen, Shiite militiamen, and Christian fighters is currently advancing towards Mosul in an effort to liberate the city from ISIS.
“We are hoping that they succeed but it doesn’t change our situation here,” said a Yazidi survivor of ISIS, identified only as Nerdis to protect her identity. “But we are also afraid of them attacking us again.”
“This is the problem. We have been forgotten even more. We have so many children and we don’t have any money and we don’t know where to go to get some,” declared Liyla Khalil Ibrahim, another Yazidi survivor, referring to money needed to pay the ransom to free other Yazidis still held captive.
“We have said so many times about what happened to us. I don’t know what to say anymore. We have 21 girls still under ISIS. Please help us get back our prisoners. That is our only wish,” she pleaded.
When ISIS seized large swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, the jihadist group captured the territory inhabited by the Yazidis, forcing many of them to flee to northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region and other countries. ISIS considers members of the minority group to be devil-worshippers.
Earlier this year, Quartz reported that displaced Yazidis are being forced to live in abandoned buildings due to overcrowded refugee camps.
Some Yazidis told Breitbart News around the same time that the damage to the infrastructure in Iraq’s Sinjar district, their homeland, prevents many of them from returning home.
Citing Dr. Ahmed Elyas Hassan from the Bajed Kandla Camp for Yazidi internally displaced persons (IDPs), located in Iraqi Kurdistan, Rudaw reports that aid from major humanitarian organizations and the regional governments has dried up over the last year and a half.
“People in Mosul are getting special treatment, but we need more,” declared Hassan.
“The sentiment in the camp is that the major humanitarian organizations such as World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have deserted Yazidi IDPs and completely refocused their efforts in preparation for those fleeing Mosul,” notes the Kurdish news agency.
The ongoing offensive to recapture Mosul has displaced tens of thousands of people so far. Mosul remains ISIS’s last major urban stronghold in Iraq and the second-largest city in the country.
The city is located in Sunni-majority Nineveh province, once the home of the largest concentration of ethnoreligious minorities in predominantly Shiite Iraq. Iraq’s city of Sinjar, the Yazidi homeland, is located in Nineveh province.
Hassan indicated that “the greatest challenge” at the Yazidi camp in Iraqi Kurdistan “is consistently obtaining a sufficient amount of medicine. Since the camp is a closed community, infections and disease run rampant among its residents.”
“The camps are a closed community. Many diseases are distributed among them, especially the skin disease, scabies. This appears in a closed community,” Dr. Hassan told Rudaw, which points out that “to combat contagions in the camp, Hassan and his staff spread awareness and look to work with the department of health from [nearby] Duhok.”
ISIS is believed to still be holding thousands of Yazidi’s in captivity, many as sexual slaves.
“Any family here has two or three people held captive in Daesh [ISIS],” noted Hassan. “The people in Mosul are Muslim. Daesh does not decapitate them, does not take their girls.”
Dr. Hassan told Rudaw that he has sent reports to WHO, requesting assistance.
Nevertheless, WHO officials have denied both ignoring and receiving requests from the Bajid Kandala camp, saying they “assist based on priority and availability of funds.”
Rudaw points out that the Joint Help for Kurdistan (JHK) is the only organization providing consistent support for medical assistance at the Yazidi camp.
“However, since JHK is an NGO, they do not receive additional help from the Iraqi central government or the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and must rely solely on charitable contributions,” it adds.“Before, JHK was receiving help from donors in Europe, but Hassan claims that that has discontinued as well.”