Thousands of Yezidis Arrive to Safety through Kurdish Corridor

RUDAW – 35 minutes ago -10.8.2014 – DUHOK, Kurdistan Region – Hospitals and clinics in Duhok have been receiving thousands of Kurdish-Yezidis stranded on Mount Shingal for a week, with 100 doctors joining the relief efforts as volunteers. Since the start of US air strikes against the positions of the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) on Friday, Peshmerga forces opened a safe corridor for the Yezidi families to reach the Kurdistan Region through Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan), where the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG) are in charge.“The safe corridor is 10 kilometers long,” Ashti Kocher, the security chief in the city of Zakho in Duhok province, told Rudaw. “Peshmerga forces are also on the mountain, helping the civilians descend the mountain and reach the many vehicles provided for them,” he said.

Meanwhile, some of the exhausted arrivals recounted what it was like to spend a week on the arid mountain, after fleeing the IS takeover of Shingal nine days ago.

“I was without water or food for five days,” a rescued woman told Rudaw. “My children were crying all the time.”

A teenage girl who arrived in Duhok on Saturday said it was the fear of the Islamist militants that drove them to the mountain refuge.

“We heard that ISIS was coming and so people ran in every direction,” she said. “That is all we heard – ‘ISIS is coming.’”

The Sunni jihadis, who are fighting in Syria and who have declared the city of Mosul in Iraq as the capital of their self-declared Islamic State, have especially targeted non-Muslims minorities, like Iraq’s Christians and Yezidis.

At least 60-70 of the Yezidis on the mountain are reported to have died, as well as reports of executions and abduction of women in the town of Shingal which the zealots captured more than a week ago.

There were reports that some 50,000 Yezidis had been stuck on the mountain, but the latest figures are that their numbers could have been as high as 100,000.

Asaad Hogir, among the 100 doctors who have rushed in as volunteers to help arriving refugees, which include not only Yezidis but also Christians and other minorities from Talafar,  Tilkef, Zumar, Bashiqa. Wounded Peshmarga are also being treated.

According to Hogir, a great number of the doctors are pediatricians and some are dentists.

Hamza Raziki, the spokesperson for Duhok’s health department said that all hospitals and clinics in the province are open round the clock to receive and treat rescued refugees from Shingal. Hundreds of families have also escaped the town of Makhmour at one of the main frontlines and are now settled at Erbil’s Sami Abdulrahman Park, where Erbil residents have rushed with milk, food and other necessities, especially for the desperate children in the group. Scores of Shabak Kurds from the Nineveh plains have also joined the influx of refugees in the Kurdistan Region in the past week. One Shabak refugee said that the Islamist militants have killed 20 members of their community in the past few days.

The majority of the rescued have now been settled in the cities of Duhok and Zakho.

The United Nations, US and Britain said they had dropped tons of food and water to the Yezidi refugees on the mountain over the past two days. But Dindar Zebari, representing the Kurdish government at the joint UN relief team, said they were still waiting for the Iraqi government to provide helicopters for more drops.

Meanwhile, two time bombs went off in Kirkuk’s Askari neighborhood and a third near the city’s Komari hospital injured 12 people.