BAJID KANDALA CAMP, Iraq- In a dusty, ill-equipped camp in northern Iraq, Yazidis fleeing a jihadist offensive say members of their families — men, women and even babies — have been abducted by militants.
The mass kidnappings by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group targeted those who either refused or simply could not flee a string of villages around Mount Sinjar, one of the minority’s main ancestral homes in northern Iraq.
The refugees say the women and children are being held in IS-controlled prisons in Nineveh province, where a sweeping jihadist-led offensive was launched in June, and that many of the men are feared to have been executed.
Khodaida Jarda, a man in his 60s wearing a light brown robe, plastic flip-flops and a dusty white turban, listed the names of his nine missing relatives.
His voice shook as he told AFP: “Please write down their names. My son, 26-year-old Haidar, is among the missing.”
Other Yazidis, just as distraught, gave similar accounts.
“My two cousins and my two uncles were kidnapped,” said Jacqueline Ali, a 17-year-old high school student now sheltered at the Bajid Kandala camp near the Tigris River, in the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
Cradling her sister’s infant, she spoke quietly as her large brown eyes welled up with tears.
“Their sisters and mothers are so scared for them that they have been refusing to eat since we arrived in the camp. We are really afraid for them,” said Ali.