Iraqi refugees found after their escape - KCTV5

Iraqi refugees found after their escape

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Several members of an Iraqi family fleeing ISIS are rescued from Sinjar Mountain by helicopter. (Source: CNN) Several members of an Iraqi family fleeing ISIS are rescued from Sinjar Mountain by helicopter. (Source: CNN)
Many of the escapees are living in a derelict building. (Source: CNN) Many of the escapees are living in a derelict building. (Source: CNN)
Reporter Ivan Watson found the Hamid family, whom he first met on an evacuation helicopter. (Source: CNN) Reporter Ivan Watson found the Hamid family, whom he first met on an evacuation helicopter. (Source: CNN)

(CNN) – Civilians fleeing by the thousands from the besieged city of Sinjar have faced daunting obstacles.

One family jumped on a helicopter carrying CNN correspondent Ivan Watson. Now he has found them again, this time in a place of safety.

In the chaos of an evacuation from Sinjar Mountain, several faces stood out, a sixteen month baby and two very frightened sisters named Aziza and Dunya.

Two days after their airborne escape, Watson found their older brother, Karem, who was also on the helicopter. He led Watson to the place where they found refuge.

“Can I see?” Watson said.

After fleeing ISSI, thousands of Iraqis are living wherever they can.

“You have no food,” Karem said. “You have no drink. You have no sleep. It is very, very poor. It’s no good.”

On the third floor of a derelict building, Watson finds his friends from the helicopter.

“Hi, guys,” Watson said. “Look at you, I remember you.”

It turns out 16-month-old Heline is a cousin of 17-year-old Dunya and 15-year-old Aziza.

“Aziza, hi,” Watson said. “It’s good to see you.”

Dunay says she had mixed feelings when she escaped aboard the chopper.

“I was happy we survived, but I was sad and worried about my father.” Dunya said.

The ordeal began a week and a half ago, when everyone in the city of Sinjar immediately fled upon hearing the news that ISIS militants were fast approaching.

Amid the panic, Dunya’s older brother says his father refused to leave.

“We all tried hard to convince my dad, but he refused to go,” Thabed said. “He said it would be a humiliation. I decided I couldn’t let them capture the girls and women, so we left.”

The family didn’t make it far in their car, before they ran into ISIS fighters, shooting at fleeing civilians on a bridge.

“I jumped out the car and off the bridge,” Aziza said. “Because I was scared of ISIS.”

The family of 12 fled on foot up Sinjar Mountain, from the frying pan into the fire.

“If we were able to find a tree where we could rest in the shade, we were lucky, “Dunya said. “For the first four days, we had no food, only water. Any bread we found, we fed to the little kids to keep them alive.”

The family lasted a few more days, thanks to aid drops from the sky and several sheep they caught and slaughtered.

But they realized they wouldn’t survive much longer, unless they escaped the mountain.

The family says they tried and failed several times to get on board a helicopter to escape the mountain, when the evacuation helicopter landed, they said they were lucky that they were the only people around in that particular area. But the fact that in that chaos, all of them were able to get on board the aircraft, is just short of a miracle.

Now safe in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Hamid family lives like thousands of other refugees on a few square feet of bare concrete.

On Thursday, the family got amazing news, a phone call from their missing father. He escaped ISIS and made it up to Sinjar Mountain.

Like thousands of Iraqis on the urn, the Hamid family’s story is one of grit and survival against terrifying odds.

It is a story that’s far from over.

Copyright 2014 CNN. All rights reserved.

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