After genocide at hands of ISIS, Yazidis seek help in Cyprus  

According to an activist who works with the Yazidi minority and genocide survivors, a total of eight families arrived in Cyprus several weeks ago.

A girl from the Yazidi sect fleeing the violence in Sinjar rests at the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing in Fishkhabour, Dohuk province, in 2014 (photo credit: YOUSSEF BOUDLAL / REUTERS)
A girl from the Yazidi sect fleeing the violence in Sinjar rests at the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing in Fishkhabour, Dohuk province, in 2014
(photo credit: YOUSSEF BOUDLAL / REUTERS)

Yazidi refugees who come from the communities that suffered genocide under ISIS have found their way to Cyprus.

According to an activist who works with the Yazidi minority and genocide survivors, a total of eight families arrived in Cyprus several weeks ago.

Genocide and persecution of Yazidis

Yazidis are a religious minority that mostly resides in Iraq, but some have historically lived in areas that became Syria and Turkey as well. In recent years they have suffered brutal persecution by terrorists and extremist groups. ISIS committed genocide against Yazidis in Sinjar in northern Iraq, killing and kidnapping thousands.

Since the genocide in 2014 many hundreds of thousands of Yazidis have been forced into displaced persons camps. This caused many to seek better lives elsewhere, traveling through Turkey to Europe.

As members of a minority group that has been persecuted by Islamist extremists, they often face persecution along the journey, sometimes at the hands of other people who claim to be refugees. According to the source, dozens of Yazidis continue to migrate through Greece to the rest of Europe. It is not usual that they end up in Cyprus because the journey is more complex and dangerous.

Displaced people from the minority Yazidis rest Monday near Iraq’s border with Syria while fleeing Sunni militants.  (credit: REUTERS)Displaced people from the minority Yazidis rest Monday near Iraq’s border with Syria while fleeing Sunni militants. (credit: REUTERS)

Landing in Cyprus

However, recently several families ended up in Cyprus near Nicosia. One is a mother with two children, and her other children and husband were still stranded in Turkey.

According to a source, many Yazidis feel they have no hope and they are continuing to leave Iraq for other destinations. They are forced to travel a difficult distance through Turkey and face persecution along the way. With winter coming it is expected that Yazidis will face more troubles. The source who keeps in touch with Yazidis who are trying to flee or seek refugee camps has documented some who went missing making the journey.

Unfortunately, despite the focus on the genocide of Yazidis, there has not been a concerted effort by the international community to help survivors. That means that there isn’t much help for those who are still stuck in refugee camps or helping them get asylum status in the West. There is also no real support for them to return home in security in Sinjar; or to make their lives elsewhere. For this reason many try to leave and some have no ended up in Cyprus.

One of those stuck in Cyprus said she had very little to eat for days and they are in difficult circumstances. Some of these people have tried many times to flee to Europe. They have ended up in Cyprus because the borders to Greece are more difficult to cross. Many find themselves in an impossible situation; unable to go home to Sinjar in Iraq, living in camps where they still live in simple tents which are cold in winter and often suffer from fire hazards; in Turkey, they face persecution and must hide their identity; and then on the way to Europe they have to cross numerous countries.