Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a Yezidi human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, said that almost no Yezidi women have been rescued from ISIS grip since the Mosul operation started in October.
“While the world is plunged in politics, 3400 Yezidi women and girls remain enslaved for ISIS sex use. Only a few have escaped since the Mosul operation stated,” she said.
“I have recently been receiving calls from Yezidi families who need help to rescue their women and girls in ISIS captivity. It is unbearable,” Murad said.
“A Yazidi mother told me that her 16-year-old daughter’s rescue from ISIS sex slavery costs $15k and she cannot pay,” the activist said. “Yazidi women even when there is a possibility for them to be rescued, there is no financial support for the work. Unbelievable pain,” she added.
When militants the Islamic State (ISIS) attacked the Yezidi communities in Iraqi Kurdistan in August 2014, they raped, forcibly married and converted to Islam thousands of Yezidi women, using them as sex slaves. ISIS is still holding a significant number of them, according to Belkis Wille, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch.
According to the United Nations, as of August, IS still held 1,935 Yezidi women, as well as 1,864 Yezidi men. Local sources reported on 24 October that at least 70 Yezidi women and children have been rescued since the beginning of the operation to retake Mosul.
“I have asked human rights colleagues in Erbil what the military plan is for assisting the Yezidi population inside Mosul, in the context of the ongoing operation. They said this is a conversation that has not yet happened,” Murad said.
In August 2014, ISIS radicals took over the Yezidi region of Shingal in northern Iraq, causing a mass displacement of nearly 400,000 people to Duhok and Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. Tens of thousands of Yezidis remained trapped in Mount Sinjar, suffering mass killings, kidnappings and rape cases, according to local and military sources. Also, more than 3000 Yezidi girls have been taken by the radical group as sex slaves.
On November 13, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraqi Kurdistan, backed by an air cover from the US-led coalition forces, announced the liberation of Shingal after fierce battles with ISIS extremists. The Kurdish forces have recently discovered more than five mass graves in the Yezidi region, where hundreds of Yezidi civilians have been summarily executed and buried by ISIS jihadis.
Yet, thousands of Yezidi women remain in ISIS captivity after being sold as sex slaves across the group’s territory in Iraq and Syria.