• 360,000 Yazidis have been displaced
  • 6417 Yazidis kidnapped / missing and sold as sex slaves
  • 3371 survivors have returned from captivity
  • 2,745 children have lost one or both parents
  • 71 mass graves have been identified

Figures from report on genocide by Kheri Bozani, March 5, 2019, Kurdistan


In August 2014, ISIS terrorists launched coordinated attacks against the population of several cities in the Nineveh and Duhok provinces of Northern Iraq. During the attacks, thousands of Yazidis fled for their lives to Mount Sinjar and to safe regions of Duhok province. In addition to Yezidis, Iraqi Christians, Turkmen, Shabaks and other groups have also been attacked.

During the attack on Sinjar, about 40,000 people initially fled to Mount Sinjar, surrounded by terrorists. They had no food, water, or shelter to sustain themselves in the merciless summer heat. Many people, including newborn babies, children and the elderly, died from dehydration and overheating.


Those who could not flee their homes in time have been murdered or kidnapped. Men were separated from women and children. Men were forced to convert to Islam, although many of them were executed anyway. Women and girls were held captive and sold as sex slaves. Boys were forced to convert to Islam and trained to be jihadists or suicide bombers. Of the more than 6,000 women and children, more than 3,000 have returned. However, these women and children have suffered the most unimaginable forms of abuse and torture and are therefore understandably severely traumatized. Many have committed suicide or attempted suicide. Executed Yazidi victims have been found in mass graves in several cities, but many remain missing.


Since their flight in 2014, more than 300,000 Yazidi refugees have lived in large camps in the region around Duhok. However, the camps are overcrowded and many displaced people live in makeshift tents and unfinished buildings in areas and villages outside the camps. The houses have no doors or windows and a mud floor. The refugees are struggling to find a job and make a living. There are enormous humanitarian and physical needs, but the need for psychological support and counseling exceeds them.


The Yazidis live mainly in Northern Iraq in the provinces of Nineveh and Duhok and practice one of the least known religions in the Middle East. Yazidi communities have now also emerged in Europe, Armenia and Russia. The total Yazidi population is estimated at about one million people.

The religious tradition of the Yazidis has elements that correspond to pre-Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Sufism. Yazidis believe in one God. The most important and central figure in the Yazidi tradition is Tawusi Malak (the peacock angel). Tawusi Malak embodies both light and darkness. According to Yazidi belief, everything in the universe has its counterpart: the sun and the moon, day and night, etc. Yazidis also believe in the primary importance of the sun. Lighting oil lamps during religious holidays is testimony to the adoration of the light.

DOHUK, IRAQ – APRIL 16: Yezidis celebrate their New Year in Dohuk, Iraq, on April 16, 2014. The ceremony started in Lalish Temple, the main Yezidi temple (60 km northern Mosul city in Shekhan town), and the candles are lit in all the corners of the Temple. They kiss Baba Sheikh’s (spiritual leader) hand and walk to the area which make 365 fire for a year. The New Year Celebration is special and it has historical indication for Yezidis that refers to Yezidi civilization and existence. (Photo by Idris Okuducu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Because Yazidis were often persecuted, rituals were passed on in secret. Legends, cosmology, sacred texts, and prayers were handed down orally from generation to generation.

For more information about Yazidi’s and their background you can click the links below