Refugees flee violence in Iraq

  • Here, displaced people fleeing from the violence in the province of Nineveh in northern Iraq, arrive at Sulaimaniya province on Aug. 8, 2014. On Thursday evening U.S. President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. had carried out a humanitarian mission to deliver food and water to religious minorities stranded on a mountain in northern Iraq.
  • Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, west of Mosul, take refuge in Dohuk province on Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Displaced Iraqi Christians settle at St. Joseph Church in Irbil, northern Iraq, on Aug. 7, 2014. On Aug. 6, militants overran a cluster of predominantly Christian villages alongside the country’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, sending tens of thousands of civilians and Kurdish fighters fleeing from the area.
  • Displaced Iraqi Christians settle at St. Joseph Church in Irbil, northern Iraq, on Aug. 7, 2014.
  • Iraqis arrive at a Kurdish-controlled checkpoint between Erbil and Mosul after fleeing in fear of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria attacks on Aug. 6, 2014.
  • Thousands of Yazidis and Christians in Iraq flee Mosul to Erbil on Aug. 6, 2014 after the latest wave of ISIS advances have seen a number of towns fall to militants.
  • Thousands of Yazidis and Christians in Iraq flee Mosul to Erbil on Aug. 6, 2014 after the latest wave of ISIS advances have seen a number of towns fall to militants.
  • Thousands of Yazidis and Christians in Iraq flee Mosul to Erbil on Aug. 6, 2014 after the latest wave of ISIS advances have seen a number of towns fall to militants.
  • Kurdish “peshmerga” troops take part in an intensive security deployment against ISIS militants on the outskirts of the province of Nineveh on Aug. 6, 2014.
  • Syrian People’s Protection Units (YPG) members and Kurdish “peshmerga” forces fight against ISIS in Mahmudiye village, Mosul, Iraq on Aug. 5, 2014.
  • Iraqi Yazidi women who fled the violence in the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, sit at a school where they are taking shelter in the Kurdish city of Dohuk in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, on Aug. 5, 2014.

of

Updated

As militants from the group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have taken hold of some parts of northern Iraq, tens of thousands of religious minorities in the country have fled from the violence. 

President Obama on Thursday approved a humanitarian mission to provide food and water to tens of thousands of religious minorities, including Christians and Yezidis – a Kurdish sect with roots dating back to ancient Mesopotamia – who have been stranded on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq under threat of execution and enslavement by ISIS forces. The president also authorized airstrikes against ISIS targets, which began Friday morning.

Obama said at the White House Thursday that he believed religious minorities in the country faced the threat of genocide if the U.S. didn’t step in to provide assistance. 

“When many thousands of innocent civilians are faced with the danger of being wiped out, and we have the capacity to do something about it, we will take action,” Obama said. “That is our responsibility as Americans. That’s a hallmark of American leadership. That’s who we are.”

Benjamin Landy contributed reporting.

Speak Out