16 Dec 2016 |

Escaped from Islamic State

A Yezidi family on Sinjar Mountain has been split into several parts due to the ravage of Islamic State in Northern Iraq. Four members are still prisoners of the terrorist movement.

By Kim Wiesener, Communications Officer

Naida has ten children – but only six of them are with her. Naida’s three oldest sons and one daughter are captives of the terrorist movement Islamic State. And the fate of her husband is uncertain.

For the past couple of years, the 35-year old Yezidi woman has been through hell, and the experience shows on her face. Naida is marked by resignation and deep despair. Her life was turned upside down when IS warriors captured her home city of Sinjar in August 2014.

Naida and her family tried to escape by car, but they were caught and detained. For the next year and a half, she was a prisoner of IS – somewhere in the mountains, she says. The family was alternately together and separated, but the smallest children were always with her. In the spring of 2016 they finally regained their freedom as part of a prisoner exchange between a Kurdish militia and IS. But the four oldest children – and possibly her husband – are still held captive.

Refuge at child centre 

For the past seven months, the family has stayed on Sinjar Mountain, in the informal camp of Sardeshte where thousands of Yezidis have sought refuge. The family lives in a tent and a trailer and get by on humanitarian aid. It gets cold at night, and the children find it hard to pass the time. One of Nadia’s sons has, however, found a place of refuge at the Mission East child friendly space.

The worst thing is that the family is split up. Naida does not know what has happened to her husband, but she has had recent news from her four captive children. She knows that the sons – the oldest is 15 – are in Syria where they have been forced to join Islamic State. Her latest contact with them was three months ago. Her oldest daughter is an IS-prisoner not so far from Mosul.

Mosul offensive gives hope 

“I spoke to her ten days ago on a mobile phone,” said Naida who hopes that the offensive against Iraq’s second largest city can lead to the release of her daughter.

Whether her daughter returns or not, the conflict in Northern Iraq has left deep scars with Naida and her family. Perhaps she will never see her husband or oldest sons again. And the prospects of returning to Sinjar City are not good. The town is not yet safe, but is plagued by internal strife between various groups. And her home is in ruins and has also been looted.

For the time being, Naida and the remaining part of her family will stay in Sardeshte Camp. At least they are relatively safe, although the sorely tried Yezidi woman underlined her fate with the following simple sentence: “Life is difficult here.”