SALLY Becker, the British charity worker dubbed the “Angel of Mostar”, is trying to persuade the UK Government to open its doors to 1,439 desperate Yazidi women and children – with the backing of Scots MPs.

The group, which includes more than 1,000 children who were victims of the Islamic State, are now confined to refugee camps in northern Iraq. Many are in urgent need of medical attention.

Earlier this month, MPs voted unanimously to recognise Isis violence against the Yazidis – as well as Christian and other ethnic minorities – as genocide. Days later, the UK Government launched its new Children at Risk initiative, which allows up to 3,000 “at risk” children and their families from the Middle East and North Africa to enter the UK “over the lifetime of this Parliament”.

Becker, who was given her “Angel” monicker after rescuing hundreds of children in the war-ravaged Balkans during the 1990s, said: “While we welcome the announcement that the government will allow 3,000 vulnerable children into the UK, it looks like it will be a very long, slow process and there are no guarantees these children will be accepted.”

Becker, along with Yazidi advocacy group Yazda, has been mustering political backing north of the Border for months. So far, she said, the bulk of support for the Yazidis has come from SNP MPs.

As part of a humanitarian effort on behalf of her charity, Road to Peace, Becker last month visited the Yazidi refugee camps in Iraq's Dohuk region and was told stories she said “still give me nightmares”.

The camps, some just 15 miles from the ISIS front line, were set up to absorb the vast numbers of refugees fleeing Iraq’s Sinjar region when ISIS invaded in August 2014. Around 400,000 people were driven from their homes. Thousands were slaughtered or captured and at least 5,000 women and children were taken into slavery.

“Many of the children are orphans. Most of them spent months in captivity as prisoners of ISIS. Hundreds witnessed the murder of their parents,” Becker said.

“Some of the stories are unrepeatable. Some of the women and children were brutally beaten, others were sold into sexual slavery, but managed to escape, or were released months later after a ransom was paid.

“Around 3,500 women and children still remain in captivity and little has been done to secure their release,” she said. “Some of the girls have committed suicide, while others died while trying to escape.”

Each victim, she said, has their own tale of horror - beheadings, rapes, kidnappings, murders and, in the immediate aftermath of the attack by ISIS, the death of hundreds of children by starvation and dehydration.

If Becker’s appeal is successful, some of these vulnerable women and children could find refuge in Scotland.

Political support for the Yazidis north of the Border has grown significantly after Nadia Murad Basee Taha, the 22-year-old Yazidi survivor of torture and rape at the hands of Isis, met with Scots MPs and MSPs in February.

When asked about Becker’s proposal to provide refuge to 1439 Yazidis, Roger Mullen, SNP MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, said: “The UK government is not doing enough to assist people at risk from the conflicts in the Middle east and I fully support Sally Becker’s campaign.

“I’ll be arguing for Yazidi victims to be welcomed into the UK.”

And Kirsten Oswald, the SNP MP for East Renfrewshire, said: “We cannot turn our back on these most vulnerable people, and it is time we stopped looking away and started to provide real practical support.”

The parliamentary debate on genocide itself was opened by Scots-born Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP for Congleton. She said: “Recognition of genocide ... is a crucial step.”

Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, the SNP MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, added: “The Yazidi people have been persecuted for generations by Saddam Hussein and others, and the latest atrocities carried out by Daesh (Isis) terrorists are just as despicable.

“As an actor in this conflict, the UK Government has a moral responsibility to do all it can to offer protection to these vulnerable people in these horrific circumstances.”

The Yazidis are an ancient, monotheistic group, whose faith incorporates parts of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Manichaeism and the ancient, pre-Islamic Zoroastrianism religion. Seven angels and a god occupy the centre of their faith.

It is ironic they are persecuted because of their belief in angels - and now the Angel of Mostar is trying to protect them from genocide.

They have long been targeted by extremist Muslim groups – not just ISIS – for extermination. Firstly, they were persecuted by the Ottoman Turks, who ruled the region for hundreds of years. Saddam murdered thousands of Yazidis. Now, the Islamic State is attempting to exterminate them.

Yazidis once numbered in the millions, but have been reduced to fewer than 750,000 - most of whom are now in refugee camps. For them, this is not just a war, it has the clear hallmarks of genocide.

Isis regards them as “infidels”, who must either convert, be killed or enslaved. The so-called caliphate also encourages the systematic rape and sexual abuse of Yazidi women.

In a region strewn with desperate people, the Yazidis have suffered longer and their situation is perhaps the most desperate of any other group.

Becker said she met many children who were separated from their families - their fathers killed, their mothers sold into slavery.

“Some are still waiting to be reunited with their parents, not realising they’re gone for good,” she said.

Becker met seven children from one family, who were separated from their parents two years ago when they fled from Shingal, a village north of Sinjar.

The eldest, a boy who is now 18, is taking care of his brother and five sisters. They have been living together in a four-meter-square tent since arriving at the camp 17 months ago.

“There is nothing for them to do and nowhere to go,” Becker said. “All they have are memories of things no child should ever see.”

She also spoke of a meeting with one woman - a mother of five children - who wanted to tell what happened when ISIS invaded Sinjar and its nearby villages in 2014.

She said the woman’s husband had been taken outside and shot. Her two eldest daughters – 15 and 17 – were kidnapped and she hasn’t seen them since. She and her three younger children were held prisoner in an underground room for 16 months. But the details of their ordeal ended there.

“As she began to recall what happened, she became extremely agitated until she was unable to speak,” Becker said.

“Throughout the meeting, her 14-year-old daughter just sat on the mattress shaking and staring into space. In addition to the traumas suffered by the family during their captivity, they live in constant fear of the same thing happening again.”

Becker, who is originally from Brighton and was one of the bearers of the Olympic flag at the London 2012 games, told the Sunday Herald in a previous interview of how she had grown up with stories of the Holocaust. As she watched the horror of the Balkans conflict unfold, she felt “utterly compelled to help”.

She said her life had changed after entering the basement of a hospital in East Mostar in 1993 to find “Dante’s hell” in the makeshift children’s ward.

Since her time in the Balkans, her campaigning on behalf of children and other victims of war, has been relentless.

Becker said: “The world knows about the persecution of religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq, but nothing has been done to protect them.

“This is Bosnia-Herzegovina all over again, with world leaders wringing their hands while looking the other way.”