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  • The comments and opinions expressed herein on this web site do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and point of view of Lutheran Hour Ministries. Statements are made exclusively by the author and appear as written and have not be subject to the Lutheran Hour Ministries doctrinal review process.

Holistic Relief To Christian Refugees in Northern Iraq

Since more than two years ago, Lutheran Hour Ministries – Lebanon started a Holistic relief ministry for Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Lebanon. The stories of Iraqi Christian refugees in Lebanon touched our hearts and we felt the great need that is existing among Christian refugees in Kurdish territories in Iraq.

The current situation of the Christians in Kurdish territories and other parts of Iraq is miserable and gloomy. The Christians were around 1.5 million during Saddam Hussein’s rule, then due to the insecurity in Iraq, the number decreased gradually to around 750,000 in the first half of year 2014, and in July 2014 after ISIS attacked the Christian towns and villages in Nineveh region forcing them to leave everything behind, the Christians presence collapsed to around 250,000 only. Moreover, every day around 15 Christian families (around 75 persons) are leaving daily to Europe or other intermediary countries once they receive approval for asylum from the United Nations.

MELM traveled to Northern Iraq to provide humanitarian aid to cover a small part of the refugees’ needs, but more importantly to show the love and care of Lutheran Hour Ministry to them. We brought for these needy refugees more than 800 packages of food with children coloring Bible books and detergents. We spent four days in different locations in Northern Iraq focusing on the neediest and neglected camps.

During our trip, we noticed that young girls are facing traumas since they refuse to go back to their towns and villages (even if it might be later liberated from ISIS). Some of the girls are still having nightmares and sleeping problems knowing that one of their girlfriends, or sisters or relatives was abducted by ISIS fighters and became a sexual slave for them.

So the current situation is dire and the future of Christians is bleak as many of them feel unwelcomed by their Muslim neighbors who actually helped ISIS in identifying the Christians and in marking their houses with the letter ‘Noun’, N in Arabic for ‘Nazarene’. Many of them do not believe in coexistence with Muslims anymore and fear for their lives and for the future of their children whom they do not want to re-live this horrifying experience.

This is very sad and truly depressing news; it is evident that Iraq and Syria are now losing their Christian citizens for good with no desire of returning back, and no hope of stopping this type of demographic bleeding.

We consecrated the first whole day of our visit to supports the refugee camps in Koysenjaq, which is about two hours’ drive away from Erbil. Many Christian and Yazidi refugees are settling there in three small refugees’ camps.

In Koysenjaq, we met several children in the camps who are not attending school because they cannot afford even the transportation to the school premises. They were very happy to receive the Bible children book and enquired about when we will visit them again to provide books and food packages.

We were touched by the great needs of the refugees in Northern Iraq and were glad to be able to reach out to the neglected small camps away from the capital city, Erbil. In all what MELM is doing, we seek to comply with Christ’s teachings that he is in the hungry and the helpless, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in …” (Mathew 25:35-40).

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