A number of Yezidi women and children flee ISIS near the border of Syria. File photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Nearly half of Yezidis abducted by ISIS in August 2014 from Shingal and its surrounding areas are still being held captive or their fates remain unknown, according to the latest data released by the Kurdish ministry of religious affairs.
From August 3, 2014 until December 1, 2017, of 6,417 Yezidis kidnapped by ISIS, only 3,207 of them have been rescued or have escaped, Khairi Bozani, General Manager of Yezidis Affairs in the KRG’s Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs told Rudaw, explaining that 3,210 are still under the group’s captivity, of which 1,377 are women, 335 men, 904 female children and 831 male children.
According to the latest figures, an estimated 1,293 Yezidis have been killed since August 3, 2014, the first day of ISIS’s brutal attacks on the Shingal region.
The number of children who lost a parent is 2,745, of which 1,759 have lost their fathers, 407 lost mothers and 389 lost both parents.
Some 47 mass graves containing the bodies of Yezidis were discovered and 68 religious shrines were blown up.
An investigation into mass graves conducted by The Associated Press and announced in August 2016 concluded that between 5,200 and 15,000 people are buried in 72 mass graves in territory the militants formerly controlled.
Last month, Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council announced it would open a “special judicial body to investigate the terrorist crimes committed against Yezidis.”
The totality of the atrocities committed against Yezidis by ISIS is not yet completely quantifiable. Many mass graves in and near Shingal have yet to be exhumed, however, Kurdish authorities in Duhok use satellite imagery to identify many believed sites.
As many as 100,000 Yezidis have migrated abroad since August 2014, according to the figure.
After the Shingal incidents, the KRG opened an office tasked with rescuing Yezidis and allocated the required budget in this regard.
Shingal fell to ISIS in August 2014 before it was liberated by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in November 2015.
Recently liberated areas of Shingal are now divided, some of them patrolled by Kurdish forces and others by Shiite Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary units.
The town also saw massive destruction at the hands of the militants.
Nadia Murad, a former ISIS captive and the UN’s new Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking has become a voice and representative of Yezidi victims around the world.
Murad is a Nobel Peace Prize candidate and was listed by TIME Magazine as one of 100 most influential people of 2016.
In August 2014 she was taken into ISIS captivity where she was beaten, sold and raped repeatedly before she managed to make her escape and speak out against their crimes.
Around 200,000 or about half of the Yezidi population in Iraq fled into the Kurdistan Region or Syria in 2014. Many still remain in camps in the Duhok province.