Nothing could prepare these Yazidi children for what befell them on the 3rd August 2014: the day that ISIS terrorists invaded and attacked the predominantly Yazidi town of Sinjar. On that day, ISIS took the town of Sinjar and killed everyone in sight. The group forced the residents of Sinjar to pledge allegiance to them or be killed. 2000 – 5000 people were reportedly slaughtered and hundreds of women and children were captured and forced into slavery. ISIS considered Yazidis to be “devil worshippers” and on those grounds justified the most horrific abuses against them.
Approximately 200,000 thousand people, most of them Yazidi, fled the Sinjar district, in fear of their lives. 50,000 of whom fled to the Sinjar mountains where they were trapped with no food or water, before being rescued by local forces with the help of US airstrikes. This incident is internationally recognised as one of the most horrific genocidal campaigns that have taken place in the region in modern times.
Many Yazidis in Iraq have a relative who has been victimised by the terror group. However, the biggest victims of this genocide has been children; many of whom have been orphaned and deeply traumatised as a result of the killing campaign.
In the province of Dohuk, a centre has been established to help cater for and rehabilitate these orphans who have endured so much suffering. This centre has taken in 20 orphans so far, while there are currently more than 500 Yazidi orphans registered in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). The centre, although running on little resources or funding, aims to develop these children and give them the opportunities that ISIS tried to take away from them.
The Yazidi children receive lessons in sport, art and other creative endeavours as well as providing an eduction. “We strive to provide full care for the children so that they may express their feelings”, explains one of the organisers.