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Encircled by IS in Sinjar

ON THE RUN: A woman and her baby are two […]

11 August 2014


ON THE RUN: A woman and her baby are two of thousands of Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking religious minority spread across northern Syria and Iraq, who are fleeing their homes in Sinjar, some barefoot and with just the clothes on their backs, to escape the Islamic State (IS).

Iraqis living in Kurdish autonomous areas including Sinjar who have lost faith in the ability of the Peshmerga to defend them are now fighting to get into the majority-Kurdish Syrian province of Hasaka in order to escape even greater violence in Iraq.

The crisis began on August 3 when the IS unexpectedly overran the Kurdish Peshmerga protecting Sinjar, a mountainous region bordering northern Syria and Iraq. While thousands of Yazidis managed to escape, thousands more were trapped in the Sinjar mountains without access to food or water, where they remain without safe passage out.

Dozens have since died of dehydration on the Sinjar mountains, brought on by the hot Iraqi summer sun, rather than face the IS fighters surrounding them.

The humanitarian crisis prompted the United States to intervene in Iraq over the weekend, striking several IS military positions surrounding Sinjar and dropping emergency food and water supplies.

The strikes in Sinjar helped clear a path for some trapped Yazidis to cross into Kurdish Syria, where the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the dominant group in the area, has established refugee camps for the Yazidis in the town of Direk.

The Red Crescent, an international Islamic humanitarian aid organization, is one of the groups receiving the Yazidis and distributing supplies and medical attention to the refugees. 

“The Red Crescent is still receiving our refugee brothers from Sinjar at the Nawroz Refugee Camp,” the Red Crescent said on its Facebook page Monday.

On Sunday, the British joined the US in dropping humanitarian aid to Yazidis in Sinjar. However, on Monday the UK decided to stop the drops over concerns that the aid would hit the Yazidi refugees.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis still remain trapped in Sinjar, either unable to escape or too weakened by dehydration and malnutrition to walk.

The accuracy of this picture, circulated on social media over the weekend, cannot be verified because Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been blocked in Kurdistan since Sunday.

-August 11, 2014

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