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Rudaw

Iraq

Yezidi fathers hope their children will return

By Rudaw 15/4/2019
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DOHUK, Kurdistan Region — In a camp in the Kurdistan Region, Yazdi fathers are desperate to know if they will ever see their missing family members again. 


Over 360,000 Yezidis are living in the displacement camps in the Dohuk Governorate, according to the Kurdistan Regional Government.



Thousands of Yezidis were killed, kidnapped, and displaced when the Islamic State group (IS) swept into the Yezidi areas in Shingal, west of Mosul, in the summer of 2014.



More than 3,000 people are still missing, even after the liberation of all the territory that was under the control of the militants.



Khudayida Musto Haji is from Khanasur near Shingal.


He was out of town when the IS group militants stormed the area and took his entire family.



That day in 2014, his wife, one son, and two daughters went missing.



Only recently, one of his daughters returned to Iraq after living in al Hol camp in Syria.



But he still hasn't heard anything about his wife, his son, and his other daughter.



"We do have hope, because they might be in Iraq, living in the camps in Iraq, the children and others, but we cannot reach them," he says.



As a result, his mind is full of questions about them.



"The only thing is I wonder where they could be now? Are they hungry? Are they thirsty? Taken? Killed? Alive?"


Khedhir Ilyas is from Tal Uzayir, near Shingal.



Khedhir Ilyas's elder son, his brother, and cousins were taken by IS and since then he has not heard any information about them.



He says his initial hopes of finding his children are dying with the liberation of each city.



"We were hoping that they might be in Mosul, then Mosul was liberated. We were hoping that they might be in Baaj, and then Baaj was liberated. Then there was this place, Baghouz, and recently it was liberated without any result."



But he won't give up on the dream of seeing them again.



"Now, nothing is left for us to hope for, but we still have our trust in God."



Over 70 mass graves have been discovered in Shingal since it was liberated from IS in November 2015, which are believed to belong to missing Yezidi people.



In November 2018, UN investigators said they had verified the location of more than 200 mass grave sites from the time of IS group rule in northern Iraq, containing the bodies of between 6,000 and 12,000 victims.



Reporting by The Associated Press

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