Yazidi refugees flee ISIS, but find door to US asylum closed

Posted by on Aug 17, 2015 at 7:07 am
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A year after U.S. airstrikes and Kurdish fighters saved Iraq’s Yazidi population from death at the hands of ISIS atop Mount Sinjar, the historic religious enclave is facing death in its homeland and a cold shoulder from America, say activists.

Despite the ongoing threat of execution in Iraq, nearly all Yazidis, a Kurdish monotheistic community that lives throughout Iraq, Syria, Turkey and even Armenia and Georgia, who have applied for asylum in the U.S. have been rejected, FoxNews.com has learned. The reason why is not clear, but advocates say Washington is turning a blind eye on the situation.

“What we are seeing, in real time, is genocide,” said Frank Wolf, a former congressman from Virginia and senior fellow at 21st Century Wilberforce, a nonprofit that seeks to protect Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East. “To declare it genocide, that would expedite relief. You can’t allow it to go on.”

The Yazidi religion includes elements of ancient nature-worship, as well as influences from Christianity, Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, Islam and Judaism.

The dramatic rescue of the Yazidi came in August 2014, after ISIS fighters chased an estimated 40,000 Yazidi men, women and children from the town of Sinjar and onto a nearby mountain to which they then laid siege. With the mountain surrounded, and supplies running low, the Yazidi faced certain death until airstrikes and boots on the ground cleared an escape route. The Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government estimated in December that 4,000 Yazidi were killed before international help arrived.

Of the tens of thousands of Yazidis uprooted from their homes, only 10 families have been granted asylum in the U.S., according to Yazda, an American-based Yazidi advocacy group. None of the visas were issued due to religious persecution faced at the hands of ISIS.

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