A prison where ISIS was holding mostly Yazidis was found in Mosul. Both men and women were detained in the prison and contains separate detainment cells for each. Iraqi soldiers found records containing the names of the detainees as well as clothes belonging to both men and women. The records were confiscated and the whole prison has been thoroughly checked.
Although all civilians within Iraq have suffered from ISIS terror, the Yazidis have been a particular target for the terrorist group due to their designation of Yazidis as heretics. Crimes committed against the ethno-religious group have been on occasion dubbed as ‘genocide’ due to the nature of the attempt at exterminating the Yazidis.
As the ISIS rampage began in 2014, the estimated Yazidi population in Sinjar, considered to be one of the main centres for Yazidis, was 400,000. Within the first few days the population dropped by about 2.5% as Yazidis were either killed or kidnapped. Forced conversions and torture of Yazidis have also been prevalent.
Women have suffered particularly as they have been used as sex slaves by ISIS militants. Many have nonetheless decided to resist and fight back by joining the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), Brigades of the Sun or Sinjar Protection Units (YBS). Those unable to fight back attempt to escape ISIS control with the help of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
Nevertheless, many of those who have escaped are unable and unwilling to remain in the country due to a lack of financial and psychological support, compounded with the lack of assurances in terms of security in their home towns. This is despite the liberation of Sinjar by a combination of operations conducted by the Kurdish Peshmerga, PKK and PMU back in 2015.
According to UN statistics, it is estimated that over 3 million civilians are displaced with Iraq itself at this moment in time.