Moving On From the Mountain: The Continuing Crisis in Northern Iraq

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Over 5,500 vehicles were observed immediately around Sinjar Mountain on August 7, with vehicles chaotically dispersed along dried riverbeds, roads, and the sides of the mountain (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe 2014).

Over 5,500 vehicles were observed immediately around Sinjar Mountain on August 7, with vehicles chaotically dispersed along dried riverbeds, roads, and the sides of the mountain (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe 2014).

While extensive media attention has been paid to the plight of those who were under siege on Sinjar Mountain, the broader crisis in north-western Iraq continues.

Amnesty’s Senior Crisis Advisor is currently on the ground, collecting and sharing eyewitness accounts of the crisis. In many ways, the plight of those who were stranded on Sinjar helped focus international attention to the broader crisis.

 

While this imagery has an historic element to it…world leaders are not entitled to a sense of relief that many of those displaced on Mount Sinjar have now moved on elsewhere.

Satellite imagery presented here of the Sinjar area (taken over a week ago) paints a picture of the panic and desperation of the hundreds of thousands of people, including Yezidis, Christians and other religious minorities, who have fled the advance of Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) fighters across northern Iraq in recent weeks.

The images, taken on August 7, show more than 5,500 vehicles strewn about at the foot and slopes of Sinjar Mountain. The vehicles are chaotically dispersed and abandoned along dried riverbeds, roads and the sides of the mountain. Many have their doors visibly left wide open.

That thousands of people drove there and abandoned their vehicles – and likely thousands more fled on foot or by other means – in order to scramble to inhospitable, exposed, dry spaces is a marker of the extreme violence, fear and vulnerability facing populations across northern Iraq since the ISIS offensive began on June 10.

Imagery along a main road on the south face of Sinjar Mountain shows chaotic positioning of vehicles, many with observable open doors. Roadblocks were observable along the road, preventing vehicles from passing (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe 2014).

Imagery along a main road on the south face of Sinjar Mountain shows chaotic positioning of vehicles, many with observable open doors. Roadblocks were observable along the road, preventing vehicles from passing (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe 2014).

On Thursday, the United Nations assigned its highest-level level emergency designation to the crisis in northern Iraq.

While this imagery has an historic element to it given the quickly evolving crisis, and the U.S. has claimed to have broken the siege of Sinjar Mountain, world leaders are not entitled to a false sense of relief that many of those displaced on Mount Sinjar have now moved on elsewhere.

An Amnesty International delegate on the ground in Iraqi Kurdistan has been documenting a shocking lack of adequate support for the massive numbers of displaced people elsewhere. Those who came back from Sinjar Mountain have joined hundreds of thousands of other displaced people from across northern Iraq who are now living in really appalling conditions.

The need for protection and humanitarian assistance – shared by hundreds of thousands of others who have fled the fighting – remain very real and urgent
Because of ongoing security concerns for the affected in the area, a limited number of images from August 7th are presented here.

In imagery from August 7th, people and makeshift structures are observable spread across a dried riverbed. Almost no shade or vegetation can be seen in the area (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe 2014).

In imagery from August 7th, people and makeshift structures are observable spread across a dried riverbed. Almost no shade or vegetation can be seen in the area (Photo Credit: DigitalGlobe 2014).

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