A Jewish businessman is leading an effort to rescue Christian and Yazidi girls kidnapped by ISIS militants and sold as sex slaves in northern Iraq, U.K. based Catholic magazine The Tabletreported on Friday.
Steve Maman, 42, founded the Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq (CYCI) a year ago after ISIS jihadists took over the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Sinjar, forcing more than 100,000 civilians to flee. The Canada-based charity works closely with a team of negotiators, based inside ISIS-occupied areas, to reunite the kidnapped girls with their families. The group claims to have rescued more than 120 women so far.
“We liberate children from their captors through the use of on-the-ground brokers,” said Maman. His organization’s website says, “The price of a child’s life to remove them from the hands of ISIS is between $1000-$3000.”
Maman says his personal hero is Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who saved 1,200 Jews from the Nazi Holocaust.
CYCI also collaborates with Anglican Canon Andrew White’s Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, which provides shelter to those who have fled ISIS.
ISIS kidnapped 7,000 Yazidi women and girls into slavery last August, according to Tablet. An unknown number of Christian women and girls were also captured, and CYCI estimates that around 2,700 are still being held by the terror group. According to the charity’s website, the women and children, some as young as 8 years old, are held in horrible conditions and are often forced to sleep in cages. They are then “sold like cattle in markets” as sex slaves to ISIS fighters and militants.
Maman said CYCI receives money for rescue missions mainly from his own “remarkably generous” Jewish business partners. He noted that he has approached 60 church organizations in Canada but has failed to attract their support.
“This is a finite problem that can be solved with money,” said the entrepreneur. “We need Christians to open up at the same rate as my Jewish friends have.”