Scores of Iraqi minorities seek shelter from Islamic State's advance
Saturday, August 09, 2014 - 01:35
Tens of thousands of ethnic Yaszidis are surrounded by Islamic State fighters on a desert mountaintop, as thousands of Christians take refuge in a provincial church. Mana Rabiee reports.
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Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.
It's to this desert mountain top that tens of thousands of minority Yazidis have fled -- and now scramble for humanitarian aid.
Sunni militants from the Islamic State had ordered them to convert -- or die.
The militants have beheaded and crucified some of their captives, in their drive to eradicate unbelievers and other minorities like Christians.
Some 4,000 Christians from a nearby province have fled the fighting.
They've taken refuge at this church in central Arbil, the horror still fresh in their minds.
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) DISPLACED CHRISTIAN WOMAN, ANETA, SAYING:
"(crying). We don't need anything, we just need a solution. We want to return to our homes and die there. Let them kill us, or we want a solution. The children are dying."
But church walls can't guarantee their safety.
The militants have advanced to only a half hour's drive from Arbil.
The U.S. has called the persecution of these minorities a "genocide".
(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) DISPLACED IRAQI, JOE HANNA. SAYING:
"Many of my family are still trapped there, why? Why? Why can't we reach a solution, all my relatives are there, waiting, what have we done to deserve this?"
World attention is focussed on the plight of the Yazidis and other minorities in northern Iraq.
This, in an area that -- for centuries -- has been one of the most diverse places of the Middle East.
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