Sheikh Mrat Alpeshimam with his wife and four children while life became too dangerous for the Yazidi people, following the takeover of their homeland by the Islamic state extremists. When asked about life in their home country, family members break into tears.
“We walked about 450 kilometers in the mountains, one of our kids was only four and the child had to walk with us. There were no means of transportation, nothing.”
Sheikh Mrat’s family are Yazidis, a Kurdish religious minority that lives mostly in Iraq. They had to leave a lot behind, including relatives some live in Iraqi refugee camps, others were murdered.“My wife’s sister was killed, my cousins both males and females were kidnapped.We were able to save two girls, but not the boys.The girls managed to run away from their kidnappers.”
While their home town is considered safe after the militants were expelled. The family is afraid to go back. Too many of those who attempted to return to their village were blown up by mines led by the extremists.After they fled, Mrat and his family spent 80 days hiding in the mountains with no food or water, burning Sun during the day and freezing cold at night. Thousands of children died in these conditions.
“When we were hiding in the mountains my four-year-old child was thirsty, but there was no water. He was hungry but there was no food. Every time that killed me as a mother.”
Finally they found safety in Armenia, where both the authorities and ordinary citizens welcomed them and offered them shelter and support.And though living conditions are poor the family says life is so much better that what they had left behind in Iraq.
Shake Avoyan for VOA News