August 28, 2014
Meanwhile, back on Mount Sinjar, thousands of Yazidis still awaiting rescue
By Rick Moran
I guess if it’s off the front pages, the Obama administration can ignore it.
After sending a team of experts to “assess” the military and humanitarian situation on Mount Sinjar where tens of thousands of Yazidis were trapped by ISIS forces, the Obama administration declared the humanitarian mission over becauise the American team concluded that the situation was better than reported.
At that point, our aid drops for the thirsty, starving people were halted.
While it’s true that thousands of Yazidis managed to escape, the fact is, according to satellite imagery and direct communication with those still left on the mountain, there are thousands of Yazidis still trapped.
For the US and its allies, Mount Sinjar is a success story: a humanitarian disaster alleviated by US air power. But hundreds, if not thousands, of Iraqis – mostly sick and old – remain atop the mountain, with no relief on its way.
Satellite images taken on 21 August by the firm ImageSat International and interviews with members of the Yazidi religious minority still on the mountain indicate a humanitarian emergency continuing to unfold. While thousands have fled down the mountain’s north face, making a dangerous trek into Iraqi Kurdistan through Syria, those on the southern side remain in crisis.
There has not been a US airdrop of food, water or medicine since 13 August, after a reconnaissance team of US special operations forces that had briefly been on the mountain reported that conditions were not as dire as Washington initially thought.Survivors of the Islamic State (Isis) siege describe leaving behind their elderly and infirm relatives. The younger Yazidis who have stayed behind talk of fighting Isis until they either liberate Sinjar city below or they die.
One Yazidi man, Abu Sulaiman, described the situation on the mountain now as “heartbreaking”.
“My pillow is a small rock, and my bed is crumpling ground where there is no water, no food, no single cigarette to smoke. Sometimes, my brother would get me a piece of bread, but I’m too ill and have no appetite to eat. I just want to be lifted out of here,” he said.
Those still on the mountain are effectively abandoned, while the Obama administration considers the Mount Sinjar operation a success. The Pentagon estimated two weeks ago that 4,000 to 5,000 people remained on the mountain, and says it cannot offer a more current estimate. The US Agency for International Development assesses that perhaps 2,000 people do not intend to leave. The United Nations mission to Iraq pegged the residual population at “a few hundred who did not want to leave,” said spokeswoman Eliana Nabaa.
Although Barack Obama said US warplanes and Kurdish forces “broke the siege of Mount Sinjar,” Isis fighters remain, confronted by a small and desperate Yazidi force.
“We need weapons now more than food or water,” Salim Hassan, a Yazidi fighter on Mount Sinjar, told the Guardian.
Some “success,” Barry.
So I guess because some of these people are too old, too sick, or too frightened to leave the mountain, that we should just let them starve. Four thousand starving to death sounds a lot better than 40,000 – might not even rate front page treatment from the New York Times.
You’re a great humanitarian,. Barry. Keep up the good work.