Fifteen-year-old Younis arrived in Berlin in April with his older cousin, Adel, 27, whom he calls uncle. Their family was displaced by the August, 2014 Islamic State massacre of the Kurdish Yazidi ethnic and religious minority in the Sinjar area of Northern Iraq; their relatives are living in UNHCR refugee camps. Adel: “Younis has two sisters and two brothers. His father is very poor, he has nothing, so he asked me, ‘Can you take the boy with you? And maybe he’ll be able to bring us to Germany one day.’ Our family lives in Iraq, there are thousands of children like him, who have no food, no water, no clothes, and now it’s beginning to get cold there.”
Even Berlin does not feel altogether safe: “We made it all this way, and they are still following us.” Stories of threats and persecution of Yazidis by Arab Muslims in Germany’s refugees shelters are circulating. The pair found refuge in a hotel that is Yazidi-owned and doesn’t allow Arabs or Muslims – except people from Pakistan, since there are no issues between their communities.