Laurent Roch | Here and Elsewhere

The Yazidis are a mostly Kurdish-speaking people who adhere to Yazidism, an ancient religion that melds various theological and mythological religious traditions. Throughout their long history, Yazidis have been singled out repeatedly for persecution. Under the interpretation of Islamic law as observed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), Yazidis are officially given the choice to convert to Sunni Islam or die.

In August 2014, Yazidis were targeted by ISIS in its campaign to "purify" Iraq and neighboring countries of non-Islamic influences, causing 30,000–50,000 Yazidis to flee into the mountains. Thousands of men and boys were shot and beheaded, women abducted and sold at auction as sex slaves. In extremely adverse circumstances, thousands of Yazidis fled towards the Sinjar Mountains, where they remained trapped for four months, until Kurdish Peshmerga managed to open a land corridor, breaking the siege.

With this series of images, I would like to draw attention to the desperate situation of the Yazidis, who are the main victims of this ongoing conflict. I hope to convey a sense of the despair of the encircled, the struggle for survival, the war with all its horrors, and the role of religion.

Christian Werner

Christian Werner is a freelance multimedia/photojournalist based in Boitzum, Lower Saxony, Germany. He discovered his interest in photography as a teenager while traveling to foreign countries. In 2014 he graduated the photojournalism course at the University of Applied Sciences in Hannover. His main interest lies in social diversity and global political issues, with a focus on the arabic world.

Chris worked in various countries in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and South America. His work has been exhibited internationally. Since 2012, Christian is represented by agency laif.