During the second week of the month the Kurds said that they were liberating Sinjar, which was taken by the Islamic State in August, but then it was revealed that IS had actually surrounded Mount Sinjar and were trying to take it once again. On October 20 there were clashes in all the surrounding areas such as Khazir, Bartella, Bashiqa, Tilkaif and Mount Sinjar itself. IS was able to seize two towns north of the mountain that day as Yazidi fighters ran out of ammunition. Twenty peshmerga were also killed and 51 wounded. On Mount Sinjar there are two Yazidi militias resisting the IS push. They told Rudaw that they had not received supplies for weeks. There are also YPG, PKK, and peshmerga fighters in the area as well. IS has cut off the supply routes to the mountain and the Yazidi forces are desperate for weapons and ammunition.
With hundreds of thousands of Yazidis displaced from their homes and unable to return, and with international attention having shifted to the battle for Kobani, Sheren Khalel and Matthew Vickery fear that the Yazidis won’t get the help they need before winter arrives:
Since news about the Yazidis first appeared in the headlines, more substantial — and much-needed — relief efforts have stumbled. Liene Veide, the public information officer for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), says the organization is doing all it can for internally displaced persons and refugees in the region, but that more funding and manpower is required. Coordination, it seems, is another problem: The United Nations is working with other local Kurdish organizations, along with the Kurdish Regional Government, to deliver aid, but some communities are receiving assistance multiple times, while others are getting none at all due to a lack of communication between these different organizations, Veide explained.
According to Veide, even with the new UNHCR camps currently in the planning stage in for Iraq, there still won’t be room for everyone. “What we are working on now is absolutely not enough for the whole number — absolutely not,” Veide says.
Cathy Otten reports on the psychological trauma the displaced Yazidis have endured and the limited treatment options available to them:
It’s mid-morning in the hospital and patients crowd the narrow corridors outside Dr [Haitham] Abdalrazak’s office in Zakho General Hospital. He estimates that over 70 percent of Yazidi IDPs in Zakho, a small city in Dohuk Province near the Turkish border, are suffering from trauma. Abdalrazak has a kind, serious expression. He says about 20 percent of his patients have considered suicide and about five percent have attempted it. … Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders warns that PTSD, anxiety and depression are now also affecting displaced children. The organisation has been offering psychological support to displaced people in their Dohuk mobile clinics since August, but do not have any psychiatrists working with them in the area.
(Photo: Thousands of Yezidis trapped in the Sinjar mountains without food and water for days, due to the Islamic State (IS) violence, arrive in Haseki city of Syria on August 10, 2014. By Feriq Ferec/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)