PLEDGE NOW
Here and Now with Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson
Public radio's live
midday news program
With sponsorship from
Mathworks - Accelerating the pace of engineering and science
Accelerating the pace
of engineering and science
Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Thousands Of Iraqis Trapped On Mountaintop

A Yazidi man sits on a cliff above the terraces his village uses for farming on Mount Sinjar in Iraq, Sept. 19, 2005. Today, tens of thousands of Yazidis are trapped on the mountaintop. (Jacob Silberberg/AP)

A Yazidi man sits on a cliff above the terraces his village uses for farming on Mount Sinjar in Iraq, Sept. 19, 2005. Today, tens of thousands of Yazidis are trapped on the mountaintop. (Jacob Silberberg/AP)

Tens of thousands of people are trapped on a mountaintop in northwest Iraq, with no water, no vegetation and few supplies.

The mountain, Mount Sinjar, is surrounded by militants from the brutal Islamic State — formerly known as ISIS — which took over Sinjar City and the surrounding area on Sunday.

About 200,000 people, most of them from the Yazidi minority, fled, and more than 40,000 are now trapped on the barren mountain. Some have already died of dehydration, and aid workers have not yet been able to reach them.

Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson talks to Marzio Babille, the Iraq representative for UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund, about the situation on the ground.

Interview Highlights: Marzio Babille

On steps being taken to aid the civilians on Mount Sinjar

“There is an initiative that the Iraqi secular government initiated over the last 48 hours, which is airdropping water and food and trying to reach these people and ensure survival. Success rates are still very low because there are logistical difficulties and, obviously, risks and threats coming from the terrain. We truly hope that in the next 48 hours the support and the multi-partner attempt to make these airdrops more specific, more precise, more targeted will save more lives.”

On why the Yazidi minority are being persecuted by ISIS

“They are hated not only by ISIS, but if you go back in time, they have been persecuted by Saddam Hussein’s regime, as well. They are non-Muslim, they don’t recognize themselves as Arabs and they, obviously, have their own state, language culture and dialect. So, they have faced a constant persecution.”

On how winter will be a game changer

“This crisis will last long and the last enemy of everybody is winter. If we are not able to provide adequate strategic planning for winter, winter is going to be particularly rigid and cold in these mountainous areas. So, winterization coupled with a strong, intense humanitarian assistance by UNICEF and other U.N. agencies is paramount.”

Guest

  • Marzio Babille, Iraq representative for UNICEF.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Spotlight

Peter O’Dowd follows the route of Abraham Lincoln's funeral train 150 years ago, to look at modern-day race relations and Lincoln's legacy.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

May 1 Comment

Lincoln History Told Through Tree Rings

At President Abraham Lincoln's funeral in 1865, the oak tree stood just a few feet from the event, shading the funeral choir.

May 1 Comment

Chigozie Obioma Makes A Splash With Debut Novel

"The Fishermen" is earning raves in the literary world and drawing comparisons to the late Chinua Achebe.

April 30 Comment

Lincoln’s Legacy Inspires Greek Family Business In Decatur

Our Tracking Lincoln series continues with the third-generation owner of the Lincoln Square Lounge.

April 29 Comment

Placebo Effect: It Might Not Be In Your Head After All

There's new evidence that what's going on with the placebo effect is more than psychological. The implications are numerous.