This Yazidi Boy Has Reunited With His Family in Canada 3 Years After Being Captured by ISIS
His mother only found out his was still alive in July.
Emad Mishko Tamo’s mother couldn’t hold back her tears as she was reunited with her son, who was captured by ISIS three years ago.
Until last month, Emad’s family didn’t even know he was alive.
It has been a long three years for the family, but they have now been reunited thanks to an intensive campaign to bring 12-year-old Emad to safety in Canada.
Emad was met off the plane by his mother and four siblings on Wednesday, in an emotional meeting after years of suffering and separation.
His mother, Nofa Mihlo Rafo, only realised Emad had survived when a relative showed her photographs of her son which surfaced online in July — posted by the Iraqi forces who rescued Emad after a battle in Mosul, reported CBC.
The family’s emotional story began when ISIS captured their hometown of Sinjar, in northern Iraq, in 2014. They were one family among an estimated 500,000 people who were kidnapped, killed, or became refugees in what the UN and others describe as a genocide of Yazidi people.
Emad, his mother, his father, and his five siblings were captured, and the father and two eldest sons — Emad and another brother — were separated from the rest of the family.
His mother managed to escape along with her four youngest children and lived in a refugee camp for nearly a year, before they were brought to Canada earlier this year.
But she still had no idea what had happened to her two other sons, or her husband.
When the photographs of Emad emerged online in July, a campaign to reunite him with his family was launched by the Yazidi Association of Manitoba, the Kurdish Initiative for Refugees, Winnipeg Friends of Israel, and the Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq (CYCI).
They were able to put pressure on politicians to fast-track his case and bring him to safety.
“I’m happy, I’m very thankful for anyone that had any part in me reuniting with my mother,” Emad, speaking through a translator, told reporters on Wednesday.
He is still suffering from bullet wounds and psychological trauma, according to CBC, but he can now begin his road to recovery.
CYCI founder Steve Maman said that the reunion was made possible by “the power of many.”
“Both of them have come back alive from hell,” he added, speaking of Emad and his mother.
Emad and his family are together thanks to Canada’s commitment to rehome 1,200 vulnerable Yazidi women and children, along with other survivors of ISIS. A ministerial spokesman said more than half of those have already arrived, according to CBC.
Jean Nicolas Beuze, the UN high commissioner for refugees representative in Canada, said the family’s case is a testament to Canada’s work on refugee resettlement “offering a space, a safe space for families to be reunited.”
He said: “As the UN refugee agency, we’re very grateful to Canada because it’s very important that we keep the family unity, whether it be for this Yazidi family or many other families around the world.”