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UN: Minorities in Iraq Threatened by Islamic State

Displaced families from the minority Yazidi religious group, fleeing the violence, are seen on the outskirts of Sinjar, west of Mosul, Iraq, August 5, 2014.

The United Nations Security Council warned Tuesday that the Islamic State extremist group may be held accountable for crimes against humanity for its systematic persecution of minorities in Iraq.

The Security Council said in a press statement that the group poses a threat, not only to Syria and Iraq, but to regional peace, security and stability.

It expressed deep concern for the hundreds of thousands of displaced people, many from vulnerable minority communities. The Security Council singled out the Yazidis, who have lived in the area for hundreds of years.

The Islamic State issued an ultimatum to tens of thousands of people from the Yazidi community on Saturday to convert to Islam and pay a religious fine or face death. Instead, many of the Yazidis, who follow an ancient religion with links to Zoroastrianism, fled to the Sinjar Mountains where they have had no access to food or water.

Talking to VOA’s Kurdish Service from the area, Yazidi politician Qasim Shashow says that hundreds of Yazidi people have already been killed by the Islamic State militants while hundreds more, mostly women and children, died because a lack of access to food or water.

Iraqi government officials said 77 tons of food and water had been air-dropped since Tuesday.

However, Darwesh Bakir, a resident from the area told VOA’s Kurdish Service that the food and water supplied by the government did not reach the Yazidi community.

“Planes drop food and water from such a great height that everything gets destroyed when it lands on the ground. We have not received anything from the regional or the central government,” said Bakir.

The Security Council urged all 193 U.N. member states to implement and enforce targeted U.N. financial sanctions, an arms embargo and travel ban on the Islamic State group and associated groups and individuals.