Yazidis Escape Sinjar in Huge Numbers

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August 13, 2014
Zakho, Iraqi Kurdistan

More Yazidi refugees arrive at the Kurdish town of Zakho in the Dhuk province. They are escaping to safety after ISIS insurgents took over their hometown of Sinjar, at the beginning of August, kidnapping and killing many.
People of the Yazidi minority were forced to walk through the Sinjar mountains for five days, with little or no supplies, before reaching the Kurdish controlled town of al-Hasaka in Syria. Kurdish fighters gave the refugees a safe passage through the Fishkhabour border crossing, back into the Kurdish controlled Iraq. The Red Cross gave out supplies donated by the UK government, and local Kurdish authority.

Interviews:

Sound bite number 1: (Arabic), Khermesh Ali, Yazidi Refugee, 77 years old:

Yazidi Refugee, Khermesh Ali: Those people have no beliefs and no conscience.

Interviewer: who are they?

Yazidi Refugee, Khermesh Ali: Those ISIS people; all we want is to get rid of them.

Interviewer: were you in Sinjar, on the mountain?

Yazidi Refugee, Khermesh Ali: We went up the mountain, but because of the huge crowds, we were not able to keep going, and there is a distance between the two mountains, we went to another area and we have been there for five days, and now we are here and it is good.

Interviewer: how is the situation up there in Sinjar Mountain, is there food and water?

Yazidi Refugee, Khermesh Ali: There is only bread and we go get the water from the spring.

Interviewer: did many people stay in Sinjar?

Yazidi Refugee, Khermesh Ali: Only a few

Interviewer: how many approximately?

Yazidi Refugee, Khermesh Ali: Well I do not know, Sinjar is too big, thousands came here, and I think some stayed

We left there and the road is too long, it took us 11 hours of walking, from 4 till 2

Interviewer: what is you name and how old are you?

Yazidi Refugee: Khermesh Ali, in 77 years old.

Sound bite number 2: (Arabic), Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee

Interviewer: what caused you to leave Sinjar, what happened?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: ISIS attacked us

Interviewer: how did that happen, what time and how long did you stay on the mountain until you came here?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: We stayed on the mountain for ten days

Interviewer: how did the attack happen?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: In the morning, the night before, there were some conflicts, but the next morning they attacked us.

Interviewer: where did the conflicts happen?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: In the communities around Sinjar and inside Sinjar

Interviewer: and then you went up to the mountain?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: Yes

Interviewer: how many days did you stay there?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: We stayed for ten days, almost eleven days, the first day we spent it walking up the mountain and then we spent ten days up there, and yesterday we left.

Interviewer: how did you manage to get food and water when you were up on the mountain?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: We almost died; there is nothing up there.

Interviewer: is this your whole family?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: Yes this is my family and my sibling’s family

Interviewer: How was the situation for the children there?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: Some of them died and we buried them.

Interviewer: did you burry them there?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: No we did not have time

Interviewer: you did not have time to bury them?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: No we did not, we just left them in the mountain, and we just covered them with blankets and left them there. This man’s daughter was 12 years old and we had to leave her before she died.

Interviewer: you left her before she was dead?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: Yes she was breathing her last breath and we left her, she had paralysis, she was dying, we left the blanket on her and left

Interviewer: you walked for 12 hours?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: Yes, and this little girl walked with us for 12 hours and did not complain

Interview: how did you go down the mountains, who lead the way?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: Syrian and Kurds lead us to the way?

Interviewer: did they use cars or walking?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: Walking, we walked in the mountains for 12 hours or more; we left at 6 am and kept walking till the sun went down. We rested for a bit and then people came and took us to Syria.

Interviewer: where are you now?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: We are in Dhuk, Kurdstan

Interviewer: what is the name of the area?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: Well I am not sure, I think it is Zakho

Interviewer: did a lot of people die?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: Yes I can say that thousands have died, many people died because of dehydration.

Interviewer: I mean on the mountain

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: Yes on the mountain, many people died, mainly children and elderly

Interviewer: how many ISIS people died?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: I do not know

Interviewer: did they take women?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: Yes they did, they took thousands of women

Interviewer: how do they take women?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: They kill the man and take his wife and daughters

Interviewer: what do they do to these women?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: They say they put them in prison, but nobody knows

Interviewer: are they building prisons?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: They take any building they want and they turn it into a prison, a party hall, a police station, they make them prisons belonging to ISIS.

This is the amount of water that we can distribute, before a person dies, we fill the cap with water and we give it to him and that is all we can do.

This boy’s twin sister died on the way because of dehydration

Interviewer: how old was she?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: She was 12 years old

Interviewer: they were distributing aid from planes, did you receive any?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: Yes just a bit

Interviewer: who was distributing them, Iraqis or Americans?

Haje Khedr, Yazidi Refugee: Both but the ones from Iraqis were dropped from the planes without parachutes, so they all get ruined, but the one distributed by Americans were received fine, food and water.

Americans dropped the aid in barrel attached to parachutes; they even gave us cell phone chargers because we have no electricity here. This is a mobile charger that works using the solar power.

All we want is to charge our phones and have water.

Shot List:

Various shots of: cars and people crossing the bridge that connects Iraq and Syria.

Various shots of: aid distribution.

Various shots of: the bridge, the vehicles and refugees.

Various shots of Iraqi refugees eating.

Various shots of food aid distribution.

Various shots of refugees riding a bus.