Iraqi religious persecution hits home in U.S.
Yazidis in Lincoln say they're grateful for the humanitarian airdrops and airstrikes against militants that President Barack Obama ordered last week. (File photo: Reuters)
Associated Press | Nebraska
Thursday, 14 August 2014
Iekhan Safar moved from Iraq to a city in the middle of the American heartland for the same reason as hundreds of Yazidis, a Kurdish religious minority: to live near family, far from the dangers they've long faced as a persecuted group.
Lincoln, the capital of the state of Nebraska, has the largest concentration of Yazidis in the United States, and many of them brought their families to America after receiving visas for serving as translators during the first Gulf War.
Now, the city is at the center of a frantic effort to draw attention to the group's plight in northern Iraq, where Yazidis are fleeing from the Islamic State group's militants to escape violence and attempts to convert them to Islam.
Thousands of homeless Yazidi families are packed into a refugee camp on a remote desert Sinjar mountain range near Iraq's northern border, where there is little access to food, water or shelter.
Safar, a mother of three, says her sisters and their children face an uncertain future there. One sister called this week in tears: Her 3-year-old daughter fell off a cliff and died in the rush to escape the extremists.