"In one day, [ISIS] killed more than 2000 Yazidi in Sinjar, and the whole world says, ‘Save Gaza, save Gaza.’” http://t.co/0qDAmgJeny
— Karim Sadjadpour (@ksadjadpour) August 6, 2014
The Guardian reports: Tens of thousands of members of one of Iraq’s oldest minorities have been stranded on a mountain in the country’s north-west, facing slaughter at the hands of jihadists surrounding them below if they flee, or death by dehydration if they stay.
UN groups say at least 40,000 members of the Yazidi sect, many of them women and children, have taken refuge in nine locations on Mount Sinjar, a craggy mile-high ridge identified in local legend as the final resting place of Noah’s ark.
At least 130,000 more people, many from the Yazidi stronghold of Sinjar, have fled to Dohuk, in the Kurdish north, or to Irbil, where regional authorities have been struggling since June to deal with one of the biggest and most rapid refugee movements in decades.
Sinjar itself has been all but emptied of its 300,000 residents since jihadists stormed the city late on Saturday, but an estimated 25,000 people remain. “We are being told to convert, or to lose our heads,” said Khuldoon Atyas, who has stayed behind to guard his family’s crops. “There is no one coming to help.”
Another man, who is hiding in the mountains and identified himself as Nafi’ee, said: “Food is low, ammunition is low and so is water. We have one piece of bread to share between 10 people. We have to walk 2km [1.2 miles] to get water. There were some air strikes yesterday [against the jihadists], but they have made no difference.” [Continue reading…]
George Packer adds: Prince Tahseen Said, “the world leader of the Yazidis,” has issued an appeal to Kurdish, Iraqi, Arab, and European leaders, as well as to Ban Ki-moon and Barack Obama. It reads: “I ask for aid and to lend a hand and help the people of Sinjar areas and its affiliates and villages and complexes which are home to the people of the Yazidi religion. I invite [you] to assume [your] humanitarian and nationalistic responsibilities towards them and help them in their plight and the difficult conditions in which they live today.”
It’s hard to know what, if anything, is left of the humanitarian responsibilities of the international community. The age of intervention is over, killed in large part by the Iraq war. But justifiable skepticism about the use of military force seems also to have killed off the impulse to show solidarity with the helpless victims of atrocities in faraway places. There’s barely any public awareness of the unfolding disaster in northwestern Iraq, let alone a campaign of international support for the Yazidis — or for the Christians who have been driven out of Mosul or the Sunni Arabs who don’t want to live under the tyranny of ISIS. The front-page news continues to be the war in Gaza, a particular Western obsession whether one’s views are pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian, pro-peace, or pro-plague-on-both-houses. Nothing that either side has done in that terrible conflict comes close to the routine brutality of ISIS.
Karim couldn’t help expressing bitterness about this. “I don’t see any attention from the rest of the world,” he said. “In one day, they killed more than two thousand Yazidi in Sinjar, and the whole world says, ‘Save Gaza, save Gaza.’ ”
Yesterday, a senior U.S. official told me that the Obama Administration is contemplating an airlift, coördinated with the United Nations, of humanitarian supplies by C-130 transport planes to the Yazidis hiding in the Sinjar mountains. There are at least twenty thousand and perhaps as many as a hundred thousand of them, including some peshmerga militiamen providing a thin cover of protection. The U.N. has reported that dozens of children have died of thirst in the heat. ISIS controls the entrance to the mountains. Iraqi helicopters have dropped some supplies, including food and water, but the refugees are hard to find and hard to reach.