2021 Photo Contest, Contemporary Issues, 2nd Prize

Islamic State’s Yazidi Survivors


Maya Alleruzzo

Associated Press

14 September, 2019

Yazidi youth, dressed in traditional clothes, take part in a program to reacquaint them with their religion and culture at Khanke Camp, near Dohuk, Iraq.

In August 2014, the group known as Islamic State (IS) launched an attack on the heartland of the Yazidi community at the foot of Sinjar Mountain, in northern Iraq. IS sees Yazidis as heretics and therefore a valid target for extermination, in their vision of a new caliphate ruled by Sharia law. From 2014 until US and Iraqi forces began liberating the region in 2017, a slavery economy operated in IS-held territory. In recent years, reports have emerged across the media of women and children handed out as gifts and sold as slaves, for a stipend of around US$50 per slave and US$35 per child. In May 2020, Associated Press reported that although some 3,500 slaves had been freed, most ransomed by their families, some 2,900 Yazidis remained unaccounted for. The United Nations has called the attacks an act of genocide against the minority group. The independent Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA), which has been investigating IS in Iraq since 2015, has now built up a substantial body of evidence and first-hand witness accounts in order to construct case files that identify ranking IS members as responsible for atrocities, including genocide and other crimes against humanity.

About the photographer

Maya Alleruzzo

Maya Alleruzzo is an American photojournalist with the Associated Press based in the Middle East. She has worked extensively in Iraq, beginning in 2003 during the United State...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Canon EOS 5D Mark III

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