A special report from Mosul

November

It is said that every tragedy has a silver lining, but I find it extremely difficult to see one in the midst of what is happening in Mosul. There are bits and pieces of hope – the hopes of broken souls – but can what is broken be glued back together, will it ever be truly the same?

 

We cannot say how much worse the situation will get. So many bad things have happened in this part of Iraq, bad things that have piled on top of each other. With the liberation of Mosul under way, we still cannot classify it as a good thing because there is so much horror still happening within the city. We can hope and pray for something better to come, but things don’t always happen as expected, especially when it is a story of manmade evil; anything can happen.

 

For example, in the first week of fighting, civilians did not leave Mosul for the refugee camps that had been prepared for them outside of the city because it was too dangerous to come that way. That did not happen until a couple of days ago when refugees starting pouring into Khazir in their thousands. Khazir was the first area to be liberated from ISIS – this happened on the first day of battle, Sunday 16th October.

 

Needless to say, the situation for refugees fleeing Mosul and the surrounding villages is inhumane. In Khazir, aid organizations are still not able to reach many people as they are too close to ISIS. It is too dangerous to get to the people there even though they are in dire need of relief. They desperately need basic provisions – food and medical assistance – but we are struggling to get to them. In areas like Makhmour to the south of Mosul, where Debaga camp is, the situation is a bit better. However, a harsh winter is coming and there is already a lack of supplies.

 

It is true that ISIS is being driven out of Mosul and that gives its persecuted population a taste of joy, but its soul has been killed along with its children. The city has mutated into an unrecognisable pile of stones. If these stones could talk, they would cry for all the bloodshed they have witnessed.

 

Some of the Christians have gone back to their villages for the first time in two years to see the destruction in person. If they can, they will try to rebuild their shattered lives. To rebuild Mosul will be difficult. The city’s infrastructure is completely destroyed. It has literally been eaten inside and out; there is an entire tunnel system under the city that can fit a tank.

 

I have witnessed the events since day one. All I can say is that FRRME is and will continue to be there for the victims. They have lost homes, family, and children. A scar has been left on the face of the Earth but with your support and kindness we will do what we can to help feed the persecuted. Kindness is the only currency left and I wish for the day it becomes universal.

 

Dr Sarah Ahmed

Director of Operations in the Middle East

To support our work, please click here

Amid the horror of the Baghdad bombing, St George’s Clinic endures

July

Last Sunday, a lorry packed with explosives was detonated in the Karrada district of Baghdad. 250 people were killed, with hundreds more wounded. Within hours of the attack, Islamic State claimed responsibility. It was revenge, they said, for the retaking of Falluja by Government forces two weeks prior. As sectarian divisions in Iraq deepen, our clinic in Baghdad, which is situated within the compound of St George’s Church, remains committed to its mission of free, non-sectarian health care.

Established in 2008, St George’s Clinic now treats between 80 and 100 patients every day free of charge. As well as medical care, we also provide dental care and prescriptions. Thanks to your support, the clinic now has its own laboratory and X-Ray machine.

As ever, children are a priority. This week, a young boy called Sajad came into the clinic with severe abdominal pain. He had been vomiting for three months. After a thorough check-up from the clinic’s doctors, Sajad was diagnosed with an abdominal infection, prescribed with the necessary drugs, and is now recovering.

There has never been a more urgent need for humanitarian relief in the Middle East. Please stand with us and support the beleaguered people of Iraq at this difficult time. Below are some key facts about how your donations will help:

FOOD RELIEF

Providing enough food to feed a family of 4 for one week
= £4 per week (USD $6)

MEDICAL AND DENTAL CARE 

We provide services to an average of 80 – 100 patients each day
Doctor’s appointment & treatment = £28 per visit ($42)
Dentist’s appointment & treatment = £22 per visit ($32)

If you would like to help, you can make a donation via our website by clicking here.

American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can make a donation to our emergency appeal by clicking here.

Thank you,

The FRRME Team
 

Weekly Media Summary 10 June 2016

June

Each week we post a selection of recent online items where you can find out about the latest developments in the countries in which the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East operates – Iraq, Jordan, Israel / Palestine.

This week’s Media Summary features news about the Iraqi Government’s assault on ISIS-held Falluja; the economic impact of the refugee crisis in Jordan; and the recent shooting by Palestinian gunmen in Tel Aviv.

Iraq

Christian Post: Innocent Christians, Muslims and Yazidis Trapped in Fallujah Need Our Help

Al Jazeera: Twin bombings kill at least 28 in Iraq’s Baghdad

Jordan

The Jerusalem Post: Jordan struggles to regain economic balance after massive influx of refugees

Guardian: Jordan says intelligence officers killed in refugee camp attack

Israel / Palestine

Telegraph: Israel bars all Palestinians following Tel Aviv shooting

Independent: Palestinian killers wanted to provoke Israel’s new Defence Minister into fulfilling his blood thirsty threats

Iraqi IDPs and refugees still need your help

June

As Daesh is pushed backed by the Peshmerga and Iraqi Government forces, the scale of their destruction becomes clearer. Whole villages have been destroyed and of those still standing, many have been littered with mines. Because of this, thousands of internally displaced Iraqis find themselves without a home to go back to, or have been prevented from returning because of the security threat.
Amid the chaos and destruction, FRRME continues to work in 17 IDP camps in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan (3 in Erbil and 14 in and around Dohuk). Thanks to our amazing team of volunteers on the ground, last month we provided emergency food relief to 5,514 families (a reach of approximately 33,000 people). Many of our volunteers are IDPs themselves, people who have lost everything but who ensure that aid reaches the most vulnerable.
We are continuing to support the education / care of Iraqi IDP children, including the 120 children at our kindergarten in Um Al-Noor. The curriculum we provide, which includes core subjects such as English, Maths and Science, is the same as the Iraqi national curriculum (ensuring some degree of educational continuity). One of our more recent education projects is the Autism Centre in Kirkuk which provides care for children with autism and other special educational needs.
With temperatures in Iraq soaring to 43 degrees this week, we have also provided 97 cooling systems to Baharka Camp and 42 cooling systems to Harsham Camp. These cooling systems can be run off camp generators and will make an enormous difference to the people living there.

Despite the hardships endured by Iraqi IDPs and refugees, the international community seems to have forgotten about them. The UK Government’s £100 million aid package to Jordan, for example, has been given on the proviso that it is used to help Syrian refugees only, not Iraqis. However, with your support, we will continue to help our Iraqi brothers and sisters, doing what we can to make their lives better.

If you would like to support our work in Northern Iraq, you can make a donation via our website by clicking here, or you can make a donation to The Emergency Appeal for Iraqi Refugees.
Thank you,
The FRRME Team

Weekly Media Summary 3 June 2016

June

Each week we post a selection of recent online items where you can find out about the latest developments in the countries in which the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East operates – Iraq, Jordan, Israel / Palestine.

This week’s Media Summary features news about the Iraqi army’s offensive on ISIS-held Falluja; reports of child refugee labour in Jordan; and French efforts to re-start the Israel / Palestine peace process.

Iraq

Reuters: Falluja is a ‘tough nut to crack’: Iraqi finance minister

The Wall Street Journal: The Militia Commander Beating Back ISIS in Iraq makes the U.S. Nervous

Jordan

Al-Bawaba: Human rights report decries unregulated refugee child labor in Jordan

US News: Jordan marks Great Arab Revolt centennial with parade

Israel / Palestine

BBC News: Mid-East wars make Israel-Palestinian deal ‘urgent’ – Hollande

The Jerusalem Post: Former Israeli and US officials unveil security-based proposals for two-state solution

Canon Andrew White in the media

South China Morning Post: When ‘Vicar of Baghdad’ Andrew White sat on Saddam’s throne

 

An update on the political situation in Iraq

June

The Iraqi army is closing in on Falluja. With the retaking of Ramadi last month, Falluja is now just one of two Iraqi cities under ISIS control (along with the group’s de facto capital, Mosul, in the north of the country).

 

A predominately Sunni-Arab city, Falluja is located 40 miles to the west of Baghdad. Since the US-led invasion of 2003, its people have felt marginalised by successive Shia-majority governments. This has allowed various Salafi-Jihadist groups, first al-Qaeda then ISIS, to take control of the city.

 

Strategically, Falluja represents ISIS’ last foothold in Al Anbar province. The problem, however, is that Falluja is home to over 300,000 civilians who now find themselves trapped between two opposing armies. According to a UN report published this week, there are an estimated 20,000 children living in the city.

 

Even if the Iraqi army manages to retake Falluja from ISIS, the human cost could be devastating. Those who manage to escape could find themselves permanently displaced. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, at least 3.3 million Iraqis were internally displaced as of 31 December 2015.

 

In the long-term, if ISIS is defeated in Iraq, there will still have to be a peaceful settlement between Sunni and Shia before the country is stable enough for the displaced to return to their homes. Without high-level reconciliation, Iraq will remain fertile ground for violent sectarianism and there will be no end to the humanitarian disaster.

 

With your support, FRRME will continue to provide emergency relief – food, medical supplies, shelter – to thousands of displaced Iraqis living in camps in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan. We will also continue to look after the 500 Christian Iraqi refugee families in our care in Jordan.

 

To support our work, please visit the donate page on this website, or you can make a donation via The Emergency Appeal for Iraqi Refugees.

 

Thank you,

 

The FRRME Team.

An update from Jordan

May

Yesterday marked the 70th anniversary of Jordanian Independence and there were encouraging words from King Abdullah who spoke of “unity, freedom and pluralism” as well as “religious harmony”. In the wake of ISIS, this is the reason that so many Iraqi Christians have made their way to the Hashemite Kingdom.
FRRME has been working in Jordan since the beginning of 2015. Our mission there is to help the thousands of Iraqi Christians who have been driven from their homes. Since then, we have set up a food voucher programme which provides food for 500 Iraqi families. We have also set up a school in Marka (a suburb of Amman), which is attended by 175 pupils.
This week, Lord Jack McConnell, Vice President of UNICEF UK, wrote that “the impact of conflict, violence and displacement on education in Iraq has been nothing short of devastating.” He is right. That is why FRRME, with your support, continues to provide a broad-curriculum education to as many children as possible.

Currently, the Jordanian Government won’t give work permits to Iraqi refugees, which makes it very hard for them to stand on their own two feet. In tandem with this, UK Government policy forbids Iraqi refugees from entering the country, only Syrian. Given this state of affairs, many Iraqi refugee children face a grim future.

Education for our refugee children is essential. Without it, they will become a lost generation.
The FRRME Team.

Canon Andrew White in Hong Kong

May

Dear Friends,
This week I am in Hong Kong where I am meeting with some of our key supporters. On arrival, I was immediately stuck by how beautiful the city is – the view over Kowloon Bay is amazing.
The view over Kowloon Bay
One of my first meetings was with Rabbi Asher from the Ohel Leah Synagogue. Originally, the Jewish community of Hong Kong were mostly from Baghdad. These days the city plays host to Jews from across the world. Rabbi Asher and I spoke about many things, including the persecuted church in the Middle East.
Canon Andrew with Rabbi Asher
I also attended a meeting of pastors from around the world. The turnout was amazing. I told them about the plight of our Iraqi brothers and sisters and they prayed for them. It has been a devestating week for our people in Baghdad – yesterday ISIS suicide bombers killed dozens of people in a busy open air market.
Canon Andrew with a group of international pastors
As many of you will know, I love pens. My favourite is still my Pelikan M1000 with green ink. Knowing this, my dear friend, John Snelgrove, took me to the smallest but greatest pen shop I have ever been to – Hop Cheong Pen Shop. It is well worth a visit if you’re ever in Hong Kong.
Canon Andrew at Hop Cheong Pen Shop with John Snelgrove
I have a packed week ahead of me – I will be speaking at The Justice Conference Asia on Saturday with lots of other speakers from around the world. I will be talking about events in Iraq and the work we are doing to help those affected by the sectarian violence.
As I often say, we must pray for peace but we must also pay for peace. If you would like to find out more about our work, please visit frrme.org. If you would like to make a donation please click here.
Grace and Peace,
Abouna Andrew
Emeritus Vicar of Baghdad

Spring / Summer Newsletter

May

To download our Spring / Summer Newsletter please click on the link below:

Spring / Summer Newsletter

Weekly Media Summary 6 May 2016

May

Each week we post a selection of recent online items where you can find out about the latest developments in the countries in which the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East operates – Iraq, Jordan, Israel / Palestine.

This week’s Media Summary features news about the persecution of Christians in Iraq; the growing refugee crisis in Jordan; and escalating tensions in Israel / Palestine.

Iraq

The Christian Times: Christians at risk of being wiped out in Iraq and Syria amid intense persecution from ISIS

Fox News: Iraq defeated IS in Ramadi at a high cost: A city destroyed

Jordan

Telegraph: Record 60,000 Syrians wait for refuge at Jordan border as regime assault on Aleppo displaces thousands

The Jerusalem Post: Jordanian security forces capture homing pigeon delivered by ISIS

Israel / Palestine

Guardian: Israel finds Hamas tunnel under border with Gaza

The Times of Israel: Palestinian with knife arrested at Tomb of the Patriarchs

 

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Insights from Sarah Ahmed, Director of Operations
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