Nearly 100,000 Ezidis Have Traveled Abroad Since Massacre
As many as 100,000 Ezidis have traveled abroad, leaving Iraq and the Kurdistan Region since the massacre and enslavement of thousands of women and men in 2014 by Islamic State (ISIS) in Sinjar district, northern Ninewa province.
According to statistics released by the Directorate of Ezidis Affairs from Kurdistan Region’s Ministry of Endowment, approximately 6,417 Ezidis people were abducted and transported to ISIS imprisonment since the invasion of the ultra-hardline militant group in 2014.
An estimated 3,270 Ezidis – mostly women and children – have been rescued from ISIS captivity in Iraq, where they were raped, beaten, sold as “sex slaves.” 3,147 remain missing.
During the initial invasion, Ccasualty figures by the Directorate of Ezidis Affairs show that 1,293 people of the minority ethnic group were killed. Around 2,740 children had their father and mother killed or missing. Since that time, many many more deaths have been discovered.
Since ISIS’s attack on the Ezidi minority district of Sinjar, 74 mass graves have been found containing the bodies of thousands of Ezidis.
The remains of 140 Ezidis executed by the militant group were found on Saturday (December 3) in two mass graves in Sinjar. Sixty were women and children.
Though not yet officially declared according to international law, the designation of genocide, rare under international law, would mark the first recognized genocide carried out by non-state actors, rather than a state or paramilitaries acting on its behalf.
Proclaiming a theocratic caliphate based on a radical interpretation of Sunni Islam, ISIS has tried to erase the Ezidis' identity by forcing men to choose between conversion to Islam or death, raping girls as young as nine, selling women at slave markets, and drafting boys to fight.
According to the General-Directorate of Ezidi Affairs in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs, there were an estimated 550,000 Ezidis living in Iraq prior to 2014.
Of those, as many as 360,000 were displaced following the 2014 attacks and continue till now to be living in camps and other villages, not their homes.