ERBIL, Iraq — Thousands of displaced Arab refugees, including a large number of Christians and Yazidis, are continuing to flee Iraq following the Islamic State’s mass execution of around 2,000 Iraqis in the city of Nineveh — followed by a series of car bombs in Baghdad on Monday — resulting in dozens of causalities, according to Reuters.
It’s been one year since the Islamic State began its reign of terror in the Sinjar and Tal Afar districts of northern Iraq’s Nineveh Province, which has included a hate-fueled campaign to wipe out Christians and Yazidis as well as other religious communities.
“Islamic State has unleashed untold misery and suffering on defenseless religious and ethnic communities, while destroying treasured religious and historical sites in both Iraq and Syria,” said Robert P. George, chairman of the U.S.Commission on International Religious Freedom, last week. “Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, and others are all at risk. Due to IS’s reign of terror, millions of people from Iraq and Syria have been forced to flee and now are refugees or internally displaced.”
The USCIRF is calling on the Obama administration to increase the number of Syrian refugee resettlements. Thus far, the U.S. has resettled only around 2,000 Syrian refugees since 2011, a vanishingly small number of the 4 million registered Syrian refugees. The bi-partisan government commission is also requesting that more assistance be given to host countries such as Lebanon to help with the large number of Syrian refugees the country is already housing.
In his Aug. 3 statement, George further emphasized that many Yazidis are still trapped inside the Islamic State. “As far as we know, some Yazidis remain on Mt. Sinjar; many others are displaced in northern Iraq, primarily in the Kurdish region, or in neighboring countries. Some reports say that thousands remain in captivity. … This is a humanitarian crisis of historic proportions.”
Idrees Silo, an Arab Yazidi who escaped a mass execution by IS militants last year after hiding under the dead body of his neighbor, shared his story of survival with The Christian Post.
“They sent an Imam who was very educated and spoke very well to tell us about why we should convert to Islam. He gave us three days to accept. When we refused, the next day a bulldozer entered our village followed by about 60 Islamic State fighters in trucks and cars. They divided us into two main groups and took all the men to an open area where a group of IS fighters with machine guns shouted Islamic slogans and shot all of us.
“I survived under the dead body of my neighbor until I was able to crawl out and find someone to help me from an Arab village near by after they left,” he told CP.
Other refugee survivors shared horrifying stories of women and children being buried alive. Iraqi Human Rights Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani confirmed the government has photographic evidence of IS’ terror attack, according to the Telegraph.
Dozens of rape survivors who also shared their stories with this CP reporter said most of the young women in villages who refused to accept IS’ ideology were captured and sold as sex slaves to satellite locations were fighters are located.
“Islamic State has stripped us of our rights, freedom and dignity. If the international community doesn’t come to help us, they will continue to kill our children and take our girls,” said one Yazidi sex slave survivor to CP.
Eyewitnesses confirm that a majority of the women and children were enslaved and taken to Raqqa and Mosul where they were sold as sex slaves, drugged with heroin to sedate them and then beaten. “Some of the girls are as young as 6 years old,” Silo explained.
Another Yazidi survivor, who preferred not to give her name due to the threat of repercussions, described IS militants as “savage monsters [who] are terrorizing thousands of civilians who are unarmed. They have no mercy and even massacre small children.”
The UNHCR estimates that around 5.2 million people are now in urgent need of humanitarian and protection assistance due to ongoing violence and insecurity. Many of the victims are children. Millions of Arabs have been displaced, tortured, raped and killed, including minority communities such as the Yazidis, Christians and Turkomen in the North, and also Shiites and Sunni Muslims.
“IS poses a grave threat to religious freedom and pluralism. Its intent is to destroy all religious groups that do not subscribe to its extremist ideology — particularly Yazidis and Christians — in the areas it controls or seeks to control in Iraq and Syria,” George added.
The internal armed conflict in Iraq has escalated since January 2014 and prompted a humanitarian crisis, which is impacting millions of Iraqis and Syrians.