Story for Al Arabiya English
Yazidis escape ISIS
In the summer of 2014, an onslaught by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forced thousands of Iraqis to flee their homes, including the small Yazidi religious sect.
Yazidi men, women and children hid in the Sinjar mountains in western Iraq, surrounded by the extremist group.
They relied on U.S.-led coalition airdrops of water and food as Iraqi helicopters tried to extract the injured, old and young.
Finally, Kurdish forces broke the ISIS siege and secured a humanitarian corridor for the Yazidis to escape on foot to the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
Not all of them managed to escape – accused by ISIS of being devil-worshipers, hundreds of women and girls were enslaved by the group, and thousands of their men were murdered.
“They killed everyone without differentiating – women, children, the elderly, young men,” said Abbas Sabry, a 21-year-old Yazidi teacher and poet from Sinjar.
This mass displacement has left thousands still living in tented refugee camps nearly two years later.
Around half of the 20,000 Yazidi refugees who settled in Khanke camp near Dohuk are children.
The UK-based AMAR foundation wanted to help educate Yazidi children, but also to help them process the trauma they have suffered.
This is where Kitabna, a non-profit organization based in the Middle East, came in. It writes and illustrates books specifically targeted at refugee children that are a resource for teachers with few materials, but also tap into sensitive issues in a child-friendly way.
Teaming up with Kitabna and global education organization Firefly International, AMAR produced two books and distributed 6,250 copies to the five camps around Dohuk. The organizations also trained local Yazidi teachers how to deliver the materials.
AMAR project officer Carmen Little said although there is a long local history of oral storytelling in the community, “the concept of reading written storybooks is still relatively new.”
The first book was about a group of frogs that live in a lake beside two refugee camps and want to bring the two communities together…[continue reading at Al Arabiya English]