MIDDLE EAST

Yazidis left on Istanbul streets after failed attempts to cross to Bulgaria

Members of the persecuted Yazidi community who had been residing in Turkish refugee camps but failed to cross to the Bulgarian border on Sunday are now stranded. (Photo courtesy: Sinjar Crisis Group)

Members of the persecuted Yazidi community who had been residing in Turkish refugee camps but failed to cross to the Bulgarian border on Sunday are now stranded on Istanbul streets, a community leader said.

The Yazidis “left [late Friday] in 30 buses, each bus had the capacity of 60-70 passengers,” Murad Ismael, who is a community leader in the U.S. and founder of the Sinjar Crisis Group, told Al Arabiya News.

(Photo courtesy: Sinjar Crisis Group)

The Sinjar Crisis Group was formed after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group captured the Yazidis’ home city of Sinjar in northern Iraq in August last year where the militants allegedly massacred more than 5,000 men from their community. Thousands of Yazidi women were also enslaved and are still in ISIS’ captivity.

Ismael added: “About 10 buses made it to the Turkish-Bulgaria border but they were blockaded and were not allowed passage.”

The remainder of the busses were re-directed to head back, and were ordered to return back to the refugee camps in southeastern Turkey, he said.

(Photo courtesy: Sinjar Crisis Group)

“Now, they are at a bus station in Istanbul,” he said. “Women, children and the elderly are sleeping on the street at a bus station.”

Mass exodus

The attempt to head to Bulgaria in hopes of finding resettlement in another European country was, according to ISmael, an attempt by these Yazidi refugees to “bring an international attention” to their plight, especially after three-month negotiations with both Turkey and Bulgaria as well as the EU to get an approval to legally cross the Bulgarian border proved to be futile.

“They did not want to illegally cross the border… but the negotiations did not go anywhere,” he said.

The move also came after nearly 15,000 Yazidi displaced refugees in southeast of Turkey “collectively decided” to seek mass exodus to EU states through the Turkish-Bulgarian crossing, but many of them remained trapped in the camps by local authorities and the Turkish police.

(Photo courtesy: Sinjar Crisis Group)

Their futile attempt to cross may have been due to their sense of desperation after 11 months living in refugee camps

Ismael described the Yazidi community as feeling “traumatized” and feeling stuck between a rock and hard place as they do not have enough resources to protect themselves in their homeland nor is the international community giving them the green light for mass migration.

“They are looking for the future, do we stay in our land and preserve our culture, heritage, homeland or all leave?” he said.

“I think the decision is to leave, and every month, we have at least 3 -5 thousands Yazidis who are leaving illegally to Europe and risking their lives. Paying mafias, trying to escape.”

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Last Update: Monday, 29 June 2015 KSA 12:57 - GMT 09:57
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Yazidis left on Istanbul streets after failed attempts to cross to Bulgaria
Their futile attempt to cross may have been due to their sense of desperation after 11 months living in refugee camps
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