In Iraq, Yazidi children liberated from ISIS but still traumatized

In its latest report, Amnesty International warns of the fate of nearly 2,000 Yazidi children abducted in northern Iraq by the Islamic State (IS). Even in freedom, they struggle with their trauma, both physical and psychological.

They were kidnapped, tortured, forced to fight, raped. In 2014, when troops from the Islamic State (IS) launched an offensive against the Sinjar mountain region in northern Iraq, thousands of Yazidis, this Kurdish-speaking people settled in the region for millennia, being killed, kidnapped or expelled. Among them, children, infants sometimes. Of the 6,800 people who were kidnapped, 33% were under the age of 14, NGO estimates Amnesty International which warns of the fate of the survivors.

Almost 2,000 of them, exactly 1,992, remained in the IS connections for three years. Released in 2017, they were reunited with their families, often in refugee camps. But they are struggling to overcome their trauma, the NGO estimates his last report.

“Once their nightmare is over, they are still living difficult times: their physical and mental health must be prioritized so that they truly integrate their families and their communities,” the NGO, which conducted interviews with dozens of them, said.

Learn again to live

Some must learn how to live after an amputation, others with nightmares, and above all, everyone must join a society that the jihadists have forced them to hate. Many, kidnapped young people, no longer speak Kurdish, but Arabic learned from the jihadists. Some have even changed their name.

Many were especially forced to take up arms. Amnesty cites one of them, Sahir, who was forcibly recruited at the age of 15 “in death pain”. When he returned, he said, “I just wanted someone to tell me, ‘I’m here for you,’ but it never happened.”

Girls, from the age of nine, could be sold as sex slaves. Raped, sometimes in groups, abused, harassed, many carried the child by their rape. “I did not want this man to have children, I never want to see him again, but I want my child,” said Janane, 22, as the highest religious authorities in Yazidi ban all children born to a non-parent. Yazidi.

“We were all thinking of killing ourselves or trying to do it,” adds Hanane, 24, who no longer sees her daughter. “Whatever we lived under ISIS, we suffer even more today.”

The essential return to school

These children must also be able to return to school, a place of socialization that is crucial to their recovery, assures the NGO, which emphasizes that tens of thousands of Yazidis are still living in refugee camps. A challenge for families who have ruined themselves to pay thousands of euros in ransom and get their child back, says Amnesty.

With AFP