40,000 Yazidis trapped on mountain in Iraq, as ISIS jihadists close in
More than 130,000 members of minority Yazidi sect fled to Kurdish north
Baghdad: More than 40,000 Yazidis – members of a minority religious group – have fled to a mountain in north-west Iraq, where they face being massacred by Islamic State militants if they come down or dying of thirst if they do not.
Members of the Yazidi sect, one of Iraq's oldest minority groups, retreated to Mount Sinjar and became stranded when jihadists from the Islamic State surrounded the mountain, The Guardian reports.
A video of Iraqi Member of Parliament Vian Dakhil created an outrage on social media in which she wept and shouted in front of the other members to help the Iraqi minority community.
Watch Video: Iraqi Yazidi MP breaks down in Parliament
Another 130,000 Yazidis are reported to have fled to Dohuk, in the Kurdish controlled north of Iraq, or to Irbil – a town where "regional authorities have been struggling since June to deal with one of the biggest and most rapid refugee movements in decades", the Guardian says.
One man, Khuldoon Atyas, who stayed to look after his family's crops in the traditionally Yazidi town of Sinjar told reporters: "We are being told to convert or to lose our heads. There is no one coming to help."
According to officials at least 500 Yazidis, including 40 children, have been killed in the past week as militants advance through the region.
Unicef reports say that the children died as a "direct consequence of violence, displacement and dehydration".
"Families who fled the area are in immediate need of urgent assistance, including up to 25,000 children who are now stranded in mountains surrounding Sinjar and are in dire need of humanitarian aid, including drinking water and sanitation services," Unicef said.
Yazidis follow an ancient faith that many jihadists consider to be "devil worship", the BBC reports.
Many Yazidi towns are now believed to be under the control of the Islamic State, the group formerly known as ISIS. Militants have also launched attacks on territory controlled by the autonomous Kurdistan region. Kurdish forces, known as Peshmerga, say they are planning retaliatory attacks.
A weekend push by the Pershmerga led to Nouri al-Maliki offering air support in "the first sign of co-operation between Baghdad and the Kurdish region since Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, was taken over by IS in June", the BBC says.
Islamic State militants swept across vast swathes of northern Iraq in June, seizing weapons and declaring the land they now control to be a new "caliphate". ·
( Source : dc )