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Iraqi crisis: Children drinking parents' blood to stay alive 'Report

Published by Tribune on Fri, 15 Aug 2014

Children trapped on a mountain by Islamic State militants in Iraq are drinking blood from their parents to stay alive, it emerged today.Their horrendous plight was revealed after some 8,000 Yazidis were finally able to escape down Mount Sinjar where they have been under siege from jihadist fighters for the last week.Those fleeing have made it to relative safety at a camp in Dohuk Province in Kurdistan, where they have told horrific stories of the 30,000 who have been left behind.Sky News correspondent Sherine Tadros, who is at the camp, said: 'One man has just told us how he saw four children die of thirst.'There was nowhere to bury them on the mountain so they just put rocks on their bodies.'Another man was saying the children were so thirsty, their parents started cutting their own hands and giving them blood to drink.'Hundreds of other families have also made it across the border after trekking for hundreds of kilometres through sweltering temperatures to safety.They are being given food, water and medical treatment at shelters in Turkey and Syria after being driven out of their town by ISIS more than a week ago.Some have been forced to pay smugglers their life savings to take them on perilous journeys across the border into Turkey, sometimes through minefields.They are among several gruelling treks to freedom the community has taken after they were sent scattering to the four corners by the insurgency, which has trapped around 30,000 others on Sinjar Mountain with no food or water.Around 2,000 Yazidis have made it to a refugee camp in Derabon, a small village near Zakho on the Iraqi Kurdistan-Turkey border.But with no passports, many are having to sit tight and hope the uprising is crushed or pay smugglers to help them avoid the official border crossing at Habur.One mother who suffers agonising rheumatism told how she and her three young children waded through the Tigris River, tip-toed her way through a minefield and climbed through a barbed-wire fence to make it into Turkey.Half-way through the five-hour journey, Amal said the smuggler wanted her children to leave her behind because she was too slow, but they chose to carry her instead.The 43-year-old told The Times: 'My sons gathered around me and they refused. We were not afraid of dying there. We were afraid of dying at the hands of the Islamic State.'Another teenager has not been so lucky.Amer Omar Pajo said he watched his father get shot in the head by ISIS gunmen as they fled to the mountains and his mother later succumbed to dehydration.The family sold the last of their belongings to pay a smuggler to get them to Derabon, but now he doesn't have the $600 to pay another trafficker to get him across the border.Meanwhile, another 130 U.S. troops have arrived in Iraq on what the Pentagon described as a temporary mission to assess the scope of the humanitarian crisis facing thousands of displaced civilians trapped on Sinjar.The British Government also remained under pressure today to consider military intervention as more aid was delivered to the mountain top.International Development Secretary Justine Greening confirmed that a third round of successful UK air drops took place last night.The supplies included two C130 consignments containing 2,640 reusable water purification containers filled with clean water.More than 500 shelter kits to provide shade in temperatures of more than 40C (104F) were also inside the packages. There have now been five successful drops over three nights.But Prime Minister David Cameron has insisted the UK will not intervene militarily - despite increasing calls from experienced commanders yesterday for it to join the US in air strikes on IS targets.Ms Greening, who announced 8 million in new assistance last week: said: 'As thousands of Iraqi people remain cut off away from their homes, we are focused on getting help to those in need, particularly those trapped on Mount Sinjar.'After last night the RAF have successfully made five drops, including thousands of containers filled with clean water that can also be used to purify dirty water and hundreds of shelter kits.'Islamic State, which sees Shi'ites as heretics who deserve death, has seized a series of towns in northern Iraq, in a sweeping advance that has left the Iraqi government reeling and prompted tens of thousands to flee.The group has declared religious rule in a caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq, offering both Christians and members of the ancient Yazidi sect, whom it calls 'devil worshippers,' the stark choice between conversion to Islam or death. It came as a former senior Iraqi politician warned that the country risks becoming another Syria unless a way to preserve its unity is found.Hajem Hassani, previously speaker in the Iraqi parliament, said if the society did not come together, it would leave the door wide open to the Islamic State (IS).He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: 'This is probably one of the hardest times Iraq is facing.'If we don't come together, then probably we will open the door too wide for the IS or other terrorist organisations.'We need to take the control...(or) it definitely will take us to the Syrian path if we are not very careful and finding ways to solve the problems.'Asked whether newly-appointed prime minister Haider Abadi understood the need for an inclusive government, he replied: 'He should do.'Meanwhile, unrest continued in Baghdad, where Iraqi troops imposed heightened security as international support mounted for a new prime minister to replace Nouri al-Maliki, who has called on the armed forces to stay out of politics amid fears of a possible coup.Tanks and Humvees were positioned on Baghdad bridges and at major intersections on Wednesday, with security personnel more visible than usual. About 100 pro-Maliki demonstrators took to Firdous Square in the capital, pledging their allegiance to him.The embattled premier has grown increasingly isolated, with Iraqi politicians and much of the international community lining up behind Haider al-Abadi, a fellow member of his Shiite Dawa party tasked by the president with forming a new government that can unite the country in the face of an onslaught by Sunni militants.Widespread discontent with al-Maliki's divisive rule has reached the point where both Saudi Arabia and Iran - regional rivals often bitterly divided over Iraq - have expressed support for al-Abadi. The United States, the European Union and the United Nations have also expressed support for new leadership.But al-Maliki, whose bloc won the most votes in April elections, has thus far refused to step aside and rejected the appointment of al-Abadi as unconstitutional.Al-Abadi was selected by the main Shiite alliance which includes al-Maliki's bloc, but the Islamic Dawa party says al-Abadi 'only represents himself.
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