ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs in the Kurdistan Region on Monday said that half of the Yezidis (Ezidis) who had been kidnapped by the Islamic State (IS) are still missing.
In August 2014, the extremist group invaded the Ezidi-populated Sinjar (Shingal) and committed one of the most egregious massacres in recent history, killing and kidnapping thousands.
Peshmerga forces, backed by the US-led coalition, liberated the town from IS the following year.
According to the figures compiled by the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs, 3,207 out of 6,417 Ezidis have fled or been saved from the militant group since the genocide three years ago.
“There are 3,210 people, including a large number of children, who are either still in the grips of the terrorists or missing,” Khairi Bouzani, the director general of Ezidi affairs at the Ministry of Endowment, was quoted by AFP.
Bouzani said that the statistics of the Ministry indicate that the number of Ezidi orphans reached 2,525—1,759 of whom lost their fathers, 407 lost their mothers, and 359 lost both parents.
In addition, there are 220 children whose parents are still being held by the extremist group, the government official added.
Bouzani also noted that 47 mass graves had been discovered so far, while IS destroyed 68 religious shrines and sites.
Earlier this month, two separate graves containing the bodies of 140 Ezidi civilians were discovered in Shingal, west of Mosul.
According to local sources, one of the graves included the bodies of 20 women and dozens of children massacred by IS.
Before the emergence of IS in 2014, there were nearly 550,000 Ezidis in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.
Editing by Sam A.