Local family says loved ones are fighting for their lives in Iraq

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – When Zarifa Ido, her husband and two daughters fled Iraq during the Gulf War, they were forced to leave one daughter behind. Now, she, her seven children and many other family members are fighting for their lives.

Yousra Ido said, “We don’t sleep; we’re thinking about them all the time.”

They are all Yazidis, a group of religious minorities in Northern Iraq that under attack by a militant group known as ISIS. Their loved ones, like thousands of others, fled their homes into the mountains two weeks ago.

Naelah Ido said, “Half of my mom’s family was left behind. We don’t know [how they are]. They haven’t contacted us.”

With some spotty cell service, the Ido family in Buffalo did receive some updates from the mountain. However, many were horrific stories about family friends they had just seen during a visit to Iraq in the spring.

Yousra said, “We had a really nice time and to think where they are right now, I mean the girls that are kidnapped and taken hostage, girls that are going to be enslaved.”

Without food or water on the mountain, their family decided to flee once again. It was a decision that almost cost them their lives.

Naelah explained, “I got a text message saying, ‘They caught us. We’re gonna die.’ So I just thought that was it.”

Thursday they learned their family escaped their captors at night and walked 15 hours to the base of the mountain.

“They still have nothing. They are wearing the same clothes they ran away in. That’s almost two weeks ago,” said Yousra.

They are now pleading with politicians in Buffalo and in Washington to step up humanitarian aid, but so far their message isn’t going far.

“They turn on the TV and they turn it back off. ‘Oh yeah, something in the Middle East again.’ They don’t understand our families are there; it’s genocide,” said Naelah.

Yousra said, “Here in our community, here in Western New York, no one realizes that there is that connection. There are families here who have families there. It’s not just another country. No, might as well be another world.”

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