Searching for Saber
When ISIS came to Sinjar on August 3rd 2014, thousands of Yazidis were captured or killed. Saber was 15 days old when he and his family were kidnapped. They were taken to Talafar where they remained in captivity until the following year. As the Peshmerga began to close in, the militants escaped to Syria, taking some of the children with them. Those who were too young to be used as sex slaves or trained as fighters were given to local Turkmen families or sold for ransom.
On June 30th 2017, a group of Yazidi and Shia children were found by Iraqi forces in Mosul where they were being used as human shields. They were taken to the centre for unaccompanied children in Hamam al Alil where their images were posted online.
Saber's family saw his photo but by the time they arrived at the centre to claim him, he had disappeared. It has taken two years but we've finally managed to trace him. Now we have to try and arrange a DNA test so he can be reunited with his family.
The majority of those still missing are Yazidis, but there are also children from the Christian and Shia community. Some have been given new identities and are too young to remember where they came from. Others were abandoned in state homes where no one knows who they are. We have done our best to try and find them but we are a small organisation and we don't have any regular funding. There needs to be a concerted effort by the Iraqi Government and the International Community in order to find these children and help to reunite them with their loved ones.
As Iraqi forces push further into Mosul's old city, hundreds of civilians are being released from so-called Islamic State control.
Reporting by Nafiseh Kohnavard
30 June 2017