Ghariba was born two months after the ISIS attack on Shingal. She was recently in Baghdad with her mother, seeking all the help they can get to find out the fate of her father, a sister and a brother who were kidnapped by ISIS in 2014.
After taking the long trip from Duhok to Baghdad, Ghariba holding her mother’s hand, with a group of people they all enter a reception room where they are welcomed by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who notices Ghariba.
The Prime Minister then gives all his attention to Ghariba, calling her to approach, and after giving her a hug and having a short conversation with her, he prompts her to sit on his own chair.
Prime Minister al-Kadhimi promts Ghariba to sit on his own chair
Throughout the meeting, which lasted about half an hour, Ghariba remained in the Prime Minister’s chair, while the PM sat on another chair to her left and continued addressing the delegation.
Ghariba and her mother’s visit took place on 3 August 2020, the sixth anniversary of the assault of ISIS militants on Shingal district. They were part of a delegation of displaced Ezidis.
The Prime Minister asks Ghariba what her name is, but she doesn’t understand Arabic. Others in the room translate the question to Kurdish for her.
I would like to tell the Prime Minister that I miss my father and want him to come back to kiss him
Beyond telling her name, Ghariba doesn’t say much else, but Layla said she had told her: “I would like to tell the Prime Minister that I miss my father and want him to come back to kiss him.”
“When my daughter was sitting in the prime minister's chair, I felt very happy, but I was thinking of her father. I was hoping that the prime minister would do something to bring my husband and children back to us,” Layla Shamo, Ghariba’s mother, told KirkukNow.
Layla has four other children, two girls and two boys, but the fate of two of them and her that of her husband is still unknown.
The family hails from Tal-Banat village in Shingal district.
Ghariba Khero is the youngest member of the family, she was born two months after the ISIS assault on Shingal.
"On 8 August , we were caught by ISIS. I was pregnant with my daughter Ghariba at the time. They took us to Tal Afar, and there I gave birth to Ghariba. My husband was still with me at the time."
While in captivity, right after Ghariba is born, Layla tells her husband Khero: “Are you happy that we have a new girl?” Khero answers: “I wish we knew what fate awaits us and our children.”
I chose the name Ghariba [which means ‘stranger’], because we were complete strangers [in that place]
On the day their new girl is born, they name her Ghariba. “I chose the name Ghariba [which means ‘stranger’], because we were complete strangers [in that place]. I didn’t really like the name, but it was appropriate for what we were going through,” said Layla.
In April 2015, the family gets separated; Layla with Ghariba and one of her other daughters were sent to Raqqa in Syria.
We were imprisoned for two months. ISIS militants wanted to take away my other daughter, but I didn’t allow it
“We were imprisoned for two months. ISIS militants wanted to take away my other daughter, but I didn’t allow it. They left her be with the condition that I would memorize the Quran.”
Layla, along with Ghariba and her other daughter, were freed from ISIS in September 2015. And one of her sons managed to escape ISIS two years ago. Since then, all four of them have been living in the Khanke IDP camp in Duhok Province.
“Our visit to Baghdad was an effort to find out the fate of our family members. I don’t understand Arabic, but I know that the Prime Minister has promised to take serious steps to find our family members,” said Layla.
Through a written statement put out by his office, the Prime Minister has made the promise of making the search for the kidnapped Ezidis an international effort.
Layla and her three children live in financial difficulties. She works as a tailor, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there isn’t much work for her.
On 3 August 2014, ISIS assaulted Shingal district, the ancestral homeland of the Ezidis, where they committed massacres and kidnapped at least 6,417, many of whom were women and children. The fate of 2887 of them is still unknown.