After five years of captivity at the hands of the terrorist group Islamic Sate, a group of Yazidi women and children reunited with their families in Iraq on Saturday, Associated Press reports.
Families were cheering, hugging and kissing their relatives in an emotional scene, and one teenage boy reportedly collapsed in his aunt’s arms and broke down in tears.
The group of three Yazidi women and eighteen children were among thousands of civilians who managed to escape in the last few days from the last territory held by the Islamic State group in the village of Baghouz, in eastern Syria.
They crossed into Iraq from Syria on Friday, and were picked up by their families on Saturday.
More than 3,000 Yazidis are still missing after Islamic State militants attacked their communities in the Sinjar region in northwest Iraq in 2014, and enslaved, raped and killed thousands of them.
Yazidi tribal leaders and organisations have recently called on the international community to help investigate the fate of thousands of women and children still missing after being kidnapped by Isis, and to punish ISIS fighters for their crimes.
“We call on the coalition forces, namely the US and all other troops that fight Isis under the leadership of the coalition, to discover the destiny of victims and help to return the prisoners soon,” said a statement from the Yazidi leaders, according to the news website Kurdistan 24.
“We also call on the Foreign Ministry of Iraq to shoulder the responsibility it has on its citizens to search for the Yazidi girls and return the bodies of the martyrs or their remains through their relations with the concerned governments,” it added.
In November 2018, more than 200 mass graves containing up to 12,000 victims were found in Iraq that held evidence of war crimes by the Islamic State group, the UN said Tuesday.
“It is outrageous that thousands of our women and girls have been missing since 2014 and it has not been a priority or main area of discussion with the Global Coalition and the international community,” said Pari Ibrahim, founder of the Free Yazidi Foundation.
In 2014, ISIS fighters killed thousands of Yazidis and took more than 6,000 women and children as slaves. The UN later declared the attack and the ongoing enslavement of Yazidi women as genocide.
The Yazidis are mostly Kurmanji-speaking religious and ethnic minority in Iraq and northern Syria. Their religion, Yazidism, or Sharfadin, is a monotheistic religion and combines elements of all Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.