In June of 2014, the Islamic State struck quickly and suddenly, its goal: domination of Iraq and Syria, and the eradication of religious and ethnic minorities in the region.
The Yazidi community has perhaps suffered the most at the hands of ISIS and its terror-driven tactics. Being the smallest minority in the Iraqi region, thousands of Yazidis have suffered slaughter, rape, torturing, mental and sexual abuse, and being sold into sexual slavery,. By August 2014, what became even more heartbreaking was the fact that most of these victims were children, and women as young as age nine. Families were destroyed through these acts of terror: women being sexually tormented, parents and siblings being killed, and others committing suicide in order to escape the barbaric devastation.
In early December, 2014, Murad Ismael, a Yazidi activist and a graduate of the University of Houston, sought to obtain aid any way he could for his threatened community. While visiting Iraq in early December 2014, Ismael met Rafed Yaldo, who was also visiting the country to experience, first-hand, and the devastation of ISIS’s dreadful reign. The two were introduced to one another by another HelpIraq volunteer who resides in Arbil.
Immediately upon hearing the Yazidi story and the desperate plight of the community, Rafed Yaldo offered the full assistance of HelpIraq in any way possible with Bishop Francis’s blessing shortly thereafter, the center for Yazidi refugees and escaped prisoners opened and was called Yazda. HelpIraq provided various necessities to the center, such as: food, clothing, and other products of hygiene and care. The center began serving thousands of Yazidis who had been captured or abused by ISIS. The center also assists in processing applications for Yazidi girls and women to obtain help from the Iraqi government’s social support system. Over the last several months, HelpIraq has continued working with Yazda to deliver to them food, clothing, and other essential products for survival.
By Omar Binno