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More than $5 million paid in ransom for release of Yezidis

By Mahmud Yasin Kurdi 29/5/2017
Yezidi people who stage a protest in Erbil after the ISIS genocide against the Yezidis in August 2014. File photo: Rudaw
Yezidi people who stage a protest in Erbil after the ISIS genocide against the Yezidis in August 2014. File photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The Kurdistan Regional Government has paid more than $5 million in ransom to secure the release of 3,004 Yezidi people from ISIS captivity since 2014, according to the Yezidi activist and lawmaker Vian Dakhil.

Dakhil told Rudaw most of the remaining captives, some 3,400 Yezidis, have been transferred to ISIS-held cities of Raqqa in Syria, and Tal Afar and Ba’aj areas in northern Iraq. 

“We have repeatedly asked the Iraqi government to do more for the release of the captives but unfortunately so far Baghdad has remained indifferent,” Dakhil, a member of the Iraqi parliament said. 

The KRG set up an office in November 2014 dedicated to locate and help the Yezidi captives return to their families often through local tribal leaders in Syria and Iraq where the Yezidis have been held.

The head of the office, Hussein Koro, declined to comment on the rescue efforts or how the ransoms are paid, citing concerns for the safety of the remaining captives.  

“We have been assigned to ensure that these people will be freed from ISIS as soon as possible," Koro said. "Many of them have been forced to renounce their faith and been sold into slave markets in the area. We employ all means to secure their freedom.”

As of late April, more than 3,000 Yezidis had been rescued — 1,589 children, 1,076 women, and 336 men, according to figures released by the KRG office tasked with the rescue mission in Duhok. 

The KRG has signed agreements with several countries including Germany and Romania to receive some 2,000 Yezidi women and children for medical treatment.

According the first Yezidi conference held in 2015, around 430,000 Yezidis were displaced, more than 3,000 women and children were kidnapped and nearly 1,800 people were killed by ISIS militants in 2014. 

The KRG office helped rescue 36 Yezidi men, women and children about a month ago from ISIS-controlled areas that took months of negotiations and thousands of dollars in ransom payment.

The rescued people were caught by ISIS militants in August 2014 at Tel Banat and transported to Baaj west of Mosul.

According to officials, 60,000 USD was paid to middlemen to arrange their safe passage into Kurdish areas.

The group included 26 children from both genders, and five women and five men.


VIDEO: 36 Yezidi people, all from the same family, reunite with their families in late April 


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