Photographers' Blog

Brief encounter with a fleeing Yazidi

By Youssef Boudlal
August 22, 2014

Fishkhabour, Iraq

By Youssef Boudlal

I remember the scene well. It was the day that I arrived at the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing of Fishkhabour.

With shocked, sunburnt faces, men, women and children in dirt-caked clothes were struggling in temperatures of over 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit), waiting patiently for local Kurdish aid.

At first, I focused my camera on a group of women sitting on the ground, but when I turned away I saw this little girl.

A girl from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, rests at the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing in Fishkhabour

I took one shot of her there and as she saw me, she gave me a smile. I captured another frame of her with her mother.

A displaced family from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, waits for food while resting at the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing in Fishkhabour

I was drawn to her wild beauty in this terrible situation. There is a kind of intensity, distress and sadness in her eyes.

I know that she is 6 years old because I asked her mother, but unfortunately I didn’t ask for her name. The family was coming from the Iraqi town of Sinjar, fleeing Islamic State militants.

It was really sad not only to see this girl, but also to see the hundred others who were dirty, exhausted, and sitting amongst garbage in the heat.

A boy from the minority Yazidi sect, who fled the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, mourns his father's death at the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing in Fishkhabour

I have been in Iraq for over a week now. It’s my first time in the country, and though I have been to many conflict zones, nothing compares to seeing these displaced people.

A displaced family from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing the violence in the Iraqi town of Sinjar, mourns the death of a family member at the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing in Fishkhabour

I wonder what their state of mind can be as they walk for miles and hours through the mountains with a few of their belongings.

I would be very curious to see the blonde girl who I photographed again. I wonder what will become of her. I wonder what will become of all the others.

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