Months ago, ISIS took over the town of Mosul, Iraq. Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities were driven out of their homes by fear. ISIS systematically killed men, women, and children without pity.
Many of the women and young girls are being held hostage for enslavement and sexual purposes. While in captivity, they suffer from malnutrition and physical abuse, causing their overall health to deteriorate at an alarming rate. They are held in the worst conditions, often forced to sleep in cages. The women and children are then sold like cattle in markets as sex slaves to ISIS fighters and militants.
Some of these children are as young as 8 years old. Not only are they at the mercy of the fighters, but also of the men who are of various ages, over 60 years of age in some cases, that are still residing in Mosul. The rapes, abuse, and brutality they suffer at the hands of their captors are beyond imagination.
There are many reports of owners that have decapitated innocent children and women because they refused to perform certain sexual acts. Those who comply are repeatedly beaten and serve as sex slaves to their owners, as well as their friends and guests, hardly ever limited to one predator at a time.
Many young adolescents are sold to brothels, where they are raped 30 to 40 times a day by ISIS fighters. The U.N reports that ISIS militants have forced overly abused sex slaves to undergo virginity restoration surgery, up to 20 times after being raped and sold. This type of female genital mutilation is gaining popularity as these young girls may command premium prices on the market. We hear about decapitations, gruesome murders, innumerable rapes, yet, we feel so far removed from it as it seems so far from OUR reality, as if it is stemming from a horror movie. THIS IS THE REALITY they are facing in the world WE live in.
In light of all this, I said to myself: I can not, and will not stand idle. I will not look at the daily reports and stay passive. As I was always taught:
One who saves a life, saves a world
I decided to act and make a difference.
Thanks to highly placed contacts in Iraq, we were able to put in place a structure to liberate and assist the freed Christian and Yazidi women and children. We are able to say with assurance that the mission was very successful. In the short period of time since September 2014, 140 women and children were safely pulled out of the town of Mosul. They were escorted to a secure location in Northern Iraq where short-term shelter, food, and medical care was provided.
CYCI also took on a more humanitarian project in nature. Jackets, hats, boots, heaters, and toys were distributed in Kurdish camps in Iraq, assisting over 25,000 Yazidis, Christians, and Muslims. Medical care continued to be given to those in need. Unfortunate circumstances in Iraq have made it impossible for us to continue the negotiations with the brokers at this time, as not only are the women’s lives more at risk, but also the lives of our team members in Iraq are in jeopardy. CYCI did not let this be a defeat. Many Yazidi families have made their way from Iraq to Turkey and have taken boats to get to Greece. Our team has flown to Greece on numerous occasions, waiting for boats by the shore nightly, and going from camp to camp to help those in needs. CYCI has teamed up with the Greek government to open a camp named Petras Camp, which is a camp solely for Yazidi refugees. After passing through the registration sites in Greece, we saw many families get separated. This camp provides them with a temporary home that they can call theirs. Thus far, we have provided financial assistance, safe passage from Greece to Germany, where they may reunite with their surviving family members, as well as food for over 2310 refugees and counting.
Unfortunately, there are thousands left in this situation. I cannot turn away from all the others after such positive results.
This mission is a major undertaking, but I am confident that we will succeed. However, it is clear that we can no longer continue without financial support for the most important humanitarian cause of this era.