Israeli humanitarian organization IsraAID has sent four Israelis to northern Iraq to join an international effort to assist Christian and Yazidi refugees fleeing the Islamic State group.
"There was a lot of trauma, we provided aid to many families who had their daughters kidnapped or father or son killed by Islamic State. They didn't even have time to take a small bag with them; I could see the fear in their eyes," says Navonel (Voni) Glick, a program director at IsraAID.
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The four Israelis stayed for a week and a half at a camp with other representatives of international aid organizations, and, they said, didn't hide the fact that they were Israeli.
The main focus was the Yazidi refugees, who appeared tired and beaten after a long journey. The four Israelis worked with the others to supply the refugees with food, mattresses, tents and medication.
Hundreds of Yazidis have been killed and hundreds of their women taken captive at the hands of the Islamic State. Some 50,000 have managed to escape the clutches of Islamic extremism; in total, approximately 200,000 Yazidis live as refugees in Iraq and the antonymous Kurdish region of the north.
Some 1,500 refugees fleeing Kobani arrive at the camp daily. The Israeli team said that the condition at the camp was becoming harder as it was difficult to accommodate the thousands of refugees who kept pouring in.
The weather also makes the situation difficult, with temperatures dropping at night; in winter, the snow this area of northern Iraq can reach up to a meter high, and the temperature can drop to as low as minus 15 degrees.
Last weekend, the aid teams had to deal with heavy rain and winds that blew some of the tents away. "Unlike other situations where there are spacious camps to hold thousands of people, here there are many small ones that are supposed to accomodate 15-20 thousand people," says Voni.
"The refugees try to sleep under bridges and inside deserted structures. Since it is a very cold place in winter, we fear they will not be able to survive. This is an awful situation."
According to Voni, the Kurdish authorities and the UN are supplying the bare minimum, but the refugees need more assistance.
"The Kurdish authorities and the UN supply them with just enough food to sustain themselves, but in order to survive they are going to need blankets and warm clothes. These people escaped with nothing but the clothes on their backs and the sandals on their feet," he says.
"They are in a complete shock. They told us about the horrible violence they suffered. They said that Islamic State militants attack and take over an area in minutes. The refugees are in a complete shock and cannot believe what has happened to them."
According to Voni, the nationality of the four Israelis has not made any impact on the refugees from Syria.
"They know we are Israelis and they have nothing against us," he says.