Alias, mid-40s, from Sinjar area, Iraq
"I was injured, and spent 8 days total on the mountain. After 4 days on the mountain we were getting dehydrated and thought that we would probably die there. We needed to do something. We were thinking about going down to Sinuni [village on the other side of the mountain, north] to get something to bake bread for the children. We wanted to reach Sinuni to get food for people. We were searching around, and ISIS discovered us and were shooting at us. I was grazed by a bullet, and fell off the car and hurt myself. I had to have an operation in Turkey on my back.
Two others with me were injured, no one was killed though. One on his shoulder, one on his hand, but I put my hand on the wound to stop the bleeding. After that, we went back to the mountains, but I didn't have the chance to get food for my children or anything. I couldn't even stand up. There wasn't any possibility to get out from the mountains. We were surrounded by ISIS.
The mountains were dried out, there was very little water. If we had even this much bread [indicates one knuckle], we would have been happy, but we didn't. Some people gave us animals, and we killed them and ate them. We ate them like animals, without bread, without salt, just put them on a fire and ate them. There were people who even ate leaves from trees. There were thousands of children who died at that time through hunger or thirst. Old and young people died because of hunger and thirst.
Because of fear, women didn’t want their babies suffering any more by dying of thirst. Some women killed their newborn babies. They didn't have milk or anything, and they said they couldn’t let their little children suffer anymore. There were people who drank their own urine to try and save themselves.
Old people, injured people, and people with mental issues were left behind in the villages around Singal. They couldn’t run with their families. ISIS killed all of them, and burnt them all together, and put them in mass graves. That practice was pretty common in Sinjar region. A woman here with us, her brother had mental issues and was in a wheelchair, and ISIS found him and shot him in the head."
"From the mountains of Sinjar we went to Syria, from Syria we went to Kurdistan. On September 13th, 2014 we went to Turkey. We left through the corridor that the PKK opened. When I left, we were around 4,000 people together. We went to Siirt, where we stayed in houses for a year and 6 months.
On February 23rd, 2016 we arrived in Greece, and have remained here ever since. Not even the countries in Europe are doing something for us. I thought we were coming to Europe to see human beings. I wanted our kids to see these human beings that we'd heard about in Europe. And until now we are in camps, and we haven't seen any good treatment or humanitarian help. Until now we are in Europe, so where should we go now?"
Photos: Shannon Ashton (Instagram @shannon__ashton) / Story: Kate Hubrich (Instagram @advo_k8)