In a small village outside Stuttgart, in southwest Germany, is one of dozens of shelters that have opened across the region in the last year to support some of the estimated 2,500 women and children who escaped after being held in captivity by ISIS. “These women and children have been enslaved by ISIS, who believe they are their owners. They are victims and witnesses to war crimes, so we protect them by running our mission in a secret, secure way,” the head of the program, Dr. Michael Blume, told The Guardian.
Among the women being assisted is Noor Murad, 25, who is one of more than 6,000 Yazidi women and children kidnapped from the ancient city of Sinjar in August 2014 by ISIS militants. Murad was held hostage for 10 months, after being captured with her 2-year-old child while her husband was away working. Murad has five brothers who are still missing. “Going from every day being locked up all the time — I just wanted to die when I was in the hands of Daesh [ISIS],” Murad said. “Now I am comfortable and I enjoy my freedom. I can’t compare Germany to Iraq. It is very peaceful and quiet and very green. But how can I enjoy being here without my family?”
Former captives receive both intensive physical and emotional support at the shelters, including trauma counseling, language classes, strictly enforced school attendance for minors, and a small stipend. Those with medical emergencies (including complicated gynecological issues and residual injuries from self-immolation) are prioritized.
Read the full story at The Guardian.