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The fight for Survival: Iraq

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

It was an early August morning in 2014 when Arab Yazidi Idrees Silo heard that Islamic State was mercilessly sweeping through the Sinjar region near the border of Syria and Iraq, slaughtering everything in their path, including women and children.

Refugee Survivors from Iraq. Image by: Hermoine Macura

When they finally reached his village, they asked for all their weapons and sent their commander, named Abu Hamza, to ask them to surrender. A skinny, dark, Iraqi man, Abu Hamza was dressed in traditional Afghan costume and approached them in a very peaceful manner. He told them about the establishment of their self proclaimed ‘Islamic State’ and that if they did not want to join them, they have the option to leave the area just as the Christians, other Muslims and other minority groups had done, a few months ago. He also asked them to convert to their version of Islam, giving them three days to decide. Little did Idrees know, that death awaited them all if they said no.

Despite the Quran forbidding the killing of other Muslims and innocent women and children, IS fighters continue to massacre and displace millions of innocent people – A practice that has been denounced by Islamic scholars across the Arab world as well as most Arab and international leaders.

Young refugee Survivor, Dohuk, Iraq. Image by: Hermoine Macura.

“When we refused to accept Islam, at about 9am the next day a bulldozer entered our village followed by about 60 Islamic State fighters in trucks and cars. They gathered us all in a local school and asked us to leave our money, treasures and anything valuable behind. They then divided us into two main groups, one group for men and another for women and children.

They took all the men a short distance away where we saw a group of IS fighters with machine guns, who shouted Islamic slogans and shot all of us. I survived under the dead body of my neighbor until I was able to find someone to help me from an Arab village near by after they left. All the women and children were enslaved and taken to Raqqa and Mosul where they were sold as sex slaves, drugged and beaten. Some of the girls are as young as six years old” Idrees says.

The internal armed conflict in Iraq has escalated since January 2014 and prompted a humanitarian crisis which is impacting millions of Iraqis and Syrians. Violations of international humanitarian law are widespread, with civilians of all ethnic and religious backgrounds targeted by the violence. Millions of Arabs have been displaced, tortured, raped and killed including minority communities such as the Yezidis, Christians and Turkomen in the north, and also Shiites and Sunnis Muslims. 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.

UNHCR Senior Protection Officer, France Lau explains: “We currently receive an average of 150 Syrian refugees as new-arrivals on daily basis here in Duhok, in the north of Iraq. We have three camps here and one collective-center in which Syrians stay. The total number of refugees in all Duhok including urban areas is 100,012 individuals. 44.7% are women and 44.1% are children.” Situated close to the conflict itself, surrounding nations also continue to provide support in the way of more camps, facilities and medical care including Turkey.

Read the full article in the Islamic Monthly magazine here.

Refugees wait for food supplies to be handed out in Northern Iraq. Image by: Hermoine Macura


About the Author:

Hermoine Macura-Noble is first Australian English speaking News Anchor in the Middle East and one of the area’s most recognized faces. She is also the Author of Faces of the Middle East  and Founder of US based 501c3 charity- The House of Rest which helps to ease the suffering of victims of war. You can follow her on Instagram, here.


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