ZAKHO, Iraq -- Northern Iraq is facing a refugee crisis, with an estimated 182,000 Yazidis fleeing to Kurdistan to escape the brutal Islamic State (ISIS) army. Many have sought refuge in Kurdish cities, dwelling in abandoned office buildings.
Just behind the northern Iraqi city of Zakho are the mountains that lead to Turkey, which is very close, just several kilometers away. Many of the Yazidis who have come to Zakho say they prefer to go to Turkey. That's because they can no longer live with Muslim Arabs.
One Yazidi leader told CBN News hundreds of Muslim neighbors turned against his people when Islamic State fighters arrived in Sinjar.
"These Arabic tribes, they joined them," Faris Elias Kholo told CBN News.
"They took away our females, children, old men, everything," he continued. "Even if we get back our homes, we cannot live with the Arabs because they usually try to persecute us."
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One refugee told CBN News he spent eight days trapped on Sinjar Mountain. He's a recent Christian convert so we're calling him "Shamo" to protect his identity.
Shamo says he witnessed terrorists kill 170 Yazidi men, then take their wives and daughters away to be sold or used as sex slaves.
He says he wants nothing to do with Islam because of ISIS and the atrocities committed by Muslims he once considered friends.
The newly converted Yazidi Christian says he was attracted to Christianity because of the kindness and generosity of Christians.
"I can say only one word about the difference between Islam and Christianity. The difference is between earth and sky and heaven," Shamo told CBN News. "We are thinking everyday why we are not behaving like the Christians…We really saw a real humanity in their life."
Feeling betrayed by Arab Muslims, the Yazidi refugees are looking to the Kurds and Christians for help.
CBN Disaster Relief is on the ground, seeking to bring them help and hope.
"We are here to show that you have not been abandoned," Brian Scott, with
"Please, either if you can protect us, provide us an international protection, or take us out of the country because we don't want to give our women and our children anymore," he appealed. "And please pray for the Yazidi people to come to Christ just like me."
CBN News witnessed firsthand changed hearts and lives as CBN partners provide blankets and clean water to sustain life and living water for all eternity.
"And we do these things in the name of Jesus Christ," Scott said.