While the "Islamic State" (IS) has lost most of its cities in Iraq and Syria, thousands of Yazidis it kidnapped are still missing. Activists say some are being hidden within IS families. Judit Neurink reports from Irbil.
Almost half of the over 6,000 Yazidis kidnapped three years ago by the IS group have still not been found. Yet many of them are hidden in plain sight, aid workers and Yazidi activists say, living with Arab families who have sought refuge in Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps.
Forced to convert to Islam, they now fear for their lives if they are found, aid worker and Yazidi activist Mirza Dinaye says. He is calling for an active search and for the Yazidis to be returned to their families.
They are victims of the IS policy to eradicate the Yazidi faith, he says. "We know they are completely assimilated into the Muslim community. They think the Yazidi faith has been eradicated, and often suffer from Stockholm syndrome," — a special, often intimate relationship between victims and kidnappers.
That was the case for Mediha Ibrahim, 13, a Yazidi girl kidnapped by IS in August 2014, who spent the next three years living with the families of Turkish IS fighters in their stronghold of Talafar. During that time, they turned her into a Muslim.
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