Middle East

Eyewitness describes plight of Iraq's trapped Yazidis

Families from the Yazidi religious minority on the outskirts of Sinjar, west of Mosul on 5 August 2014.
Surrounded by Sunni militant fighters, tens of thousands of Yazidis risk dying of thirst

A member of Iraq's Yazidi religious minority, Khalil, trapped with thousands of others on a mountain as Islamist militants advance, described their plight in an interview on Wednesday with the BBC's Hadya Alalawi.

We're hiding inside caves. We have nothing - no food and no water.

We've been under siege for four days. We eat once a day - either in the morning or at night.

We've managed to get some basic food supplies from neighbouring areas, but three children died today because of starvation. Seven women and children have died since yesterday because of dehydration.

Some Yazidis have managed to reach the province of Dahuk in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region

A lot of the people here have disabilities or suffer from serious illnesses like diabetes. It's 50C here and we're being bombarded indiscriminately.

We need help. Until now, no humanitarian aid has been delivered and no help provided by aid organisations - not the Red Cross or the Red Crescent, or even the United Nations. The Iraqi government and the Iraqi president have not helped. Nothing at all.

There are clashes going on between the Islamic State [IS] and the Yazidis. But we don't have weapons so what are we supposed to do?

In Dahuk Yazidi families have received food handouts

When IS fighters arrived in Sinjar, they said there was no place for us in the area and that we had to leave. But where can we go? When they attacked Mosul, many people fled to Sinjar.

The Peshmerga [Kurdish fighters] have not helped us at all. We haven't seen any of their soldiers. When they found out that IS was coming to shell Sinjar, they all left for Kurdistan.

On top of all the persecution and humiliation we have suffered, IS fighters now want to kill us. They want to slaughter us.

Peshmerga troops who held towns in the Sinjar area for years were defeated by militants on Sunday

Yazidis under fire

  • 40,000 Yazidis are believed to be trapped on Mount Sinjar
  • At least 130,000 have escaped to the Kurdish north
  • The Yazidis are a religious sect located in northern Iraq, Syria and the Caucasus
  • Their faith is rooted in ancient Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam
  • The principal divine figure, Malak Taus (Peacock Angel), is the supreme of seven angels who ruled the universe after God created it
  • Yazidis are regarded as devil worshippers by many Muslims and other groups
  • There are an estimated 500,000 Yazidis, mostly living on Iraq's Nineveh plains
  • In August 2007 jihadists attacked Yazidi villages in Nineveh, killing between 400 and 700 people

Iraq: The minorities of Nineveh

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