President Obama announced on Thursday evening that he had authorized the U.S. military to use force in order to prevent a "genocide" in Iraq. Despite disagreement over whether this is the right course of action, there's no denying that Iraq is facing a humanitarian disaster.
"[T]ens of thousands of Yazidis — a mostly Kurdish-speaking people who practice a unique, syncretic faith — fled the advance through northern Iraq of the Islamic State's Sunni jihadists, who have set about abducting and killing hundreds of members of this religious minority," explains the Washington Post's Ishaan Tharoor. "The Yazidis, globally, number about 700,000 people, but the vast majority of the community — about half a million to 600,000 — live concentrated in Iraq's north. The city of Sinjar was their heartland. Now, it's in the possession of extremists who seem bent on ethnic cleansing."
As of Friday's early morning air strikes, as many as 40,000 Yazidis are still stranded in Sinjar, "dying of hunger and thirst and devoid of much support from a faltering Iraqi government." The videos below, curated and verified social media service Storyful, captures the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Iraq that the headlines don't show.
Iraqi Kurdish MP Vian Dakhil, a member of the Yazidi faith, delivered an emotional appeal on the floor of the Iraqi Parliament on Aug. 5. Militants are "exterminating my people," she said. "We are being butchered."
Dakhil says that 500 Yazidi men have been slaughtered by the Islamic State and that Yazidi women are "being taken as slaves and sold in the slave market."
According to UN officials in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, at least 45,000 Iraqis, including Arabs, Christians and minority Yazidis, Shabak, Shia Turkmen and others, have fled into the region since Sunday to escape armed groups that took over Sinjar and two other communities. Many have left relatives behind, trapped in the mountains outside Sinjar, where reports suggest 30,000 people are unable to escape.
The video above, published on Aug. 8, reports on the current living conditions for some of these displaced people.
This Associated Press video, published on Aug. 8, shows Iraqi army troops delivering humanitarian aid to thousands of members of the Yazidi minority trapped in the Sinjar mountains.
The Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG) helped thousands Yazidis flee out of hiding on Sinjar Mountain.
According to Yahoo, "the Yazidis were taken to Mahmur refugee camp near to the Kurdish town of Derik in Rojava, where they could be provided with necessary food and medicine. According to reports, hundreds of the evacuated Yazidi population joined the Kurdish ranks to return and fight Islamic State militants."
Editors Note: Mar. 3, 2015
An earlier version of this article failed to cite a passage from Yahoo in accordance with Mic editorial standards. The article has been updated to properly attribute the language to Yahoo.