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'Human shields'

As Iraqi military prepares to take ISIS stronghold of Mosul, activists fear for lives of Yazidi slaves

October 19, 2016

As Iraqi-led forces surround the city of Mosul, activists are expressing concern for the lives of what may be hundreds of enslaved Yazidi women and girls being held in the ISIS stronghold. “After the horrors they have already endured, it’s hard to believe they may suffer even more,” said Khaleel Aldakhi, an Iraqi lawyer and activist working to help rescue the captive Yazidi.

Escaped Yazidi have said that fighters used them as human shields against air strikes, according to a Yazidi aid worker, and activists fear that the women could become caught in the crossfire of the siege, or even subjected to reprisal killings by their captors.

The exact number of Yazidi slaves remaining in Mosul is uncertain, but the city had served as a marketplace for fighters hoping to buy Yazidi captives as sex slaves. More than 1,000 Yazidi women and children were held in Mosul at one point, according to Yazda, a U.S. based advocacy group.

For those Yazidis who have escaped ISIS, the impact of their kidnapping remains inescapable. Many of the freed sex slaves suffer extreme trauma from their experiences — and stigmatization from those around them. For many, their families dead or missing, there is nowhere to go but to refugee camps in Northern Iraq, where they have little to no access to work or education.

Earlier this month, Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman who was held as an ISIS sex slave before escaping, appeared at the Women in the World London forum and shared her harrowing experience with the audience on hand. “We had a simple life. We were very poor, but we were very happy before Daesh came,” she said, using an alternate name for ISIS.

More than 3,200 Yazidi women and children remain enslaved by ISIS, according to the United Nations.

Read the full story at the The Los Angeles Times.


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