Large parts of the Yezidi population of northwestern Iraq have taken refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan. They live in camps, under bridges or in unfinished buildings, many of them in the area of Dohuk.
In the beginning of August 2014 the Yezidis fled their homes because the Sunni extremist group Islamic State attacked the areas they lived. Around 40,000 made it to Mount Sinjar where they were surrounded by Islamic State forces. They were left there virtually without food or water, and many died. The Yezidis were able to escape from the mountain with the help of American air strikes. But many were left behind and either killed or kidnapped.
The Yezidi religion is a mixture of ancient religions, Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Sufi influences. They worship seven angels, of which Melek Taus or the Peacock Angel is the most important. Muslims and Christians often identify Melek Taus with the devil and accuse the Yezidis for being devil worshippers. The Yezidis have experienced countless attacks, both historically and in modern times.