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Geopolitics

Slaves Of ISIS, Yazidi Survivors Share Unspeakable Horrors

The minority Yazidi people were killed and taken captive by the Islamic State. Once held as sex slaves and child soldiers, several survivors tell of the psychopathic madness of the jihadists.

A Yazidi mother and her daughters in a refugee camp in Greece
A Yazidi mother and her daughters in a refugee camp in Greece
Thierry Oberlé

The tragedy of the Yazidis is never-ending. Many members of the Middle Eastern ethnic-religious minority are still trapped as slaves of the Islamic State, or ISIS, in Mosul's inferno. Meanwhile, some of the girls who had been raped in captivity and boys who had been drafted as child soldiers are having a hard time recovering from the trauma. Having been released for ransom or escaped, they languish in camps for displaced people in Iraqi Kurdistan. We met some of them in the Darkar camp, near the Turkish-Syrian border, in a clinic of EliseCare, a French NGO. Here are their stories:

Lion cub of the caliphate

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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