Thousands of Yazidis in Iraq escaped the genocidal wrath of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) but remain in miserable conditions at refugee camps. One shelter in Khanke, Iraq, took in over 70,000 people in August. The conditions there have not improved.
Khanke is less than an hour away from Dohuk, where the average temperature highs in the last three months are 106, 99, and 84. The heat is unbearable for the refugees. To make matters worse, there is no indoor plumbing. This means no bathrooms or showers, which puts the people at risk for numerous diseases. Mosquitoes constantly bother everyone at night.
The majority of the Yazidis at the camp are women and children. The Islamic State executed the young men and abducted women to be sex slaves. The jihadists did not just target the Yazidis, however. A Muslim woman told Rudaw that “her husband, along with his father and two brothers, were publicly executed in front of her.”
Nagehan Alçi with Daily Sabah visited a camp in Diyarbakir, Turkey. Of the more than 4,300 refugees, 1,700 are children. Despite the huge number of people, there are only 600 tents. Many live under trees, but winter is approaching.
“It is almost impossible to live in a tent under harsh winter conditions, much less a tree,” she said. “When I asked a municipal official what they will do about this situation, he said container houses are needed and that governmental support is essential.”
She then went to a university building, which is home to 157 children. The residents surrounded her and smiled. A woman in red spoke to Alçi.
“They [ISIS] suddenly came and attacked everywhere and all of us,” said the woman. “They abducted women and youth and shot 200 children dead in front of our eyes.”
Alçi asked Agriculture Minister Mehdi Eker about the camps and why no ministers in Turkey visited the Yazidis. He said, “The municipality literally kidnapped these people from the hands of the state and did not send them to the camp designed by AFAD [Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency of Turkey] in Mardin’s Midyat.” Many Yazidis have reported they do not want to be in Midyat because Arabs are also in that camp. Due to Alçi’s concerns, Eker visited the Yazidis and “shared their sorrow to show that the Turkish state was on their side.” Alçi believes the state will build the proper shelter for the Yazidis.
Some in the area posted pictures of Yazidi camps on social media:
— Mustafa Sadeer (@MustafaSadeer) September 17, 2014
Featuring one of the first refugee camps I was at where there were Yazidi children.UNHCR pic.twitter.com/rDFLrZbAeG
— Gail Orenstein (@gail_orenstein) September 26, 2014
— Humanitarian Relief (@IHHen) September 11, 2014
— curdistani (@curdistani) August 26, 2014