Two American aid flights have also made it to the mountain, where they have dropped off more than 36,000 meals and 7,000 gallons of drinking water to help the refugees, and last night two RAF C-130 transport planes were also on the way.
However, Iraqi officials said that much of the US aid had been “useless” because it was dropped from 15,000ft without parachutes and exploded on impact.
Handfuls of refugees have managed to escape on the helicopters but many are being left behind because the craft are unable to land on the rocky mountainside. There, they face thirst and starvation, as well as the crippling heat of midsummer.
Hundreds, if not more, have already died, including scores of children. A Yazidi Iraqi MP, Vian Dakhil, told reporters in Baghdad:
“We have one or two days left to help these people. After that they will start dying en masse.”
The Iraqi Army is running several aid missions every day, bringing supplies including water, flour, bread and shoes.
The helicopter flights aim to airlift out refugees on each flight, but the mountains are sometimes too rocky to land on, meaning they return empty.
Even when it can land, the single helicopter can take just over a dozen refugees at a time, and then only from the highest point of the mountain where it is out of range of jihadist missiles. Barely 100 have been rescued in this way.
The flights have also dropped off at least 50 armed Peshmerga, Kurdish forces, on the mountain, according to Captain Ahmed Jabar.
Other refugees have made their way through Islamic State lines, evading the jihadists to reach safety, or travelling through
Kurdish-controlled sections of Syria to reach the town of Dohuk. So far the Yazidi refugees left behind have survived by hiding in old cave dwellings, drinking from natural springs and hunting small animals, but with families scattered across Mount Sinjar, a barren range stretching for around 35 miles near the border with Syria, there are fears aid will not reach them all unless the humanitarian relief operation is significantly stepped up
Full article: Iraq crisis: ‘It is death valley. Up to 70 per cent of them are dead’ (The Telegraph)