Ezidi women who survived Islamic State brutality remain trapped in living nightmares

Ezidi women who survived Islamic State brutality remain trapped in living nightmares
Kirkuk- Displaced families return to their hometown Hawija, 2017 Photo: KirkukNow

Ammar Aziz- Ninewa

Beze Elyas had to leave her little baby boy behind just outside Shingal (Sinjar) because she was so exhausted that she couldn’t carry him in her arms anymore.

The then unstoppable Islamic State (IS) militants were approaching towards the predominantly Ezidi town west of Ninewa province.

Marwan, Beze’s only son was only one year old, yet he was left alone in the desert area under temperatures which reached 40 degrees centigrade. This tragedy haunted Beze for the rest of her life.

In the early hours of August 3, 2014 the situation in Shingal was deteriorating. IS militants were about to take control of the center of the town. Unexpectedly, the Kurdish Peshmarga forces withdrew and the Ezidi residents had to flee towards Mount Shingal and the Kurdistan Region’s Duhok province.

Beze lived in constant pain after she left her child behind on that ill-fated day

Beze Elyas who left her child behind on that ill-fated day lived in a constant pain until she ended her own life at the age of 30 in an IDP camp in September 2016.

This is the story of at least 15 Ezidi girls and women who put an end to their miserable lives in IDP camps after going through unimaginable suffering at the hands of IS.

Duhok- Ezidi displaced families endure life in IDP camps due to security instability and lack of services in their areas, Photo: KirkukNow

Many of those who committed suicide after surviving IS due to the endless pain they had to undergo after the militant group slaughtered or abducted their loved ones.

Others took that decision due to the trauma they faced after they were treated as sex slaves in captivity.

Salim Ali, who lives in Duhok’s Sharya IDP camp said, “Beze (his sister- in-law) suffered a severe psychological trauma. Every day she was waiting to hear news of her missing son, but that never happened.”

Beze’s pain affected her marriage too; she often got into quarrels with her husband until their life became unbearable, according to some of her relatives.

 Beze got married in 2012 in Shingal; a year later their son, Marwan, was born.

Salim Ali said, “Beze could not save her child’s life when IS stormed the town; and her husband escaped separately.”

15 Ezidis aged 14-25 committed suicide in IDP camps

After spending two years in Sharya camp, one day Beze left home after she had a quarrel with her husband and went to her father’s house in the same camp.

Beze’s father asked his son-in-law to come and take his wife back, but he didn’t come. Later in September 2016 Beze burned herself and ended her own life”, according to Salim.

As many as 17 IDP camps are have been set up for Ezidi displaced families in Duhok, many of them could not return home due to security instability and the lack of essential services.

Ezidi women survivors are suffering from severe psychological disorders; approximately 360 women have been receiving treatment at psychological trauma recovery centers in Duhok.

According to statistics by Duhok-based Jvin organization for society development 15 Ezidis aged 14-25 committed suicide in IDP camps.

Meanwhile the Duhok governorate’s Board of Humanitarian Affairs put the number at 18.

Kawa Eido Khatari, head of Jvin organization told (KirkukNow) that suicide cases in Ezidi-populated camps were higher in 2018 compared to previous years.

The organizations teams say they have offered counselling to more than 700 Ezidis of both sexes who suffered from psychological problems.

Chiman Abdul-Aziz from German WADI organization which works to help reincorporate Ezidi women survivors into society said, “Those women who escaped or were freed from ISIS in 2014 were in better psychological conditions than those who survived in 2016 and later.”

“Some of the survivors live in dilemma because they now have children from IS fighters; therefore it is much difficult for them to deal with their society and their perceived rejection”, she added.

According to WADI statistics, in 2018 a total of 44 Ezidi women and girls living in Duhok IDP camps attempted to commit suicide.

WADI teams say they were successful in incorporating more than 800 displaced Ezidis into society.

In August 2014, the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization, attacked the Ezidi’s ancestral homeland of Shingal (Sinjar) in northwestern Iraq. Among other atrocities, they abducted an estimated 6,417 Ezidis, half of them were women and girls many of them were forced into sexual slavery.

 

 

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