Weekly Media Summary 26 May 2017

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 and Jordan.

This week’s media summary includes news about the Pope and Trump discussing protection of Christians in Iraq and the perception of refugees as bringing opportunities in Jordan.

 

Iraq

Rudaw: The Pope and Trump discuss protection of Christians in Iraq

Al Monitor: Iraq’s Christians demand reconstruction of religious sites

Iraqi News: Minister: more than 8000 refugees repatriated in Nineveh in 3 days

 

Jordan

Jordan Times: See refugees as ‘opportunity’, not ‘burden’, panellists urge

NRT: Life Remains Tough for Iraqi Refugees in Jordan

Iraqi Christian refugees you are helping: Ammar

Ammar’s story

This is Ammar, his wife Athraa and their two children, Ethan and Athena. They are an Iraqi Christian family living in Jordan who you are helping. Below is an interview we did with the family about why they left Iraq, what it’s like being a refugee in Jordan, and their hopes for the future:

 

FRRME: “What was your life like before you came to Jordan?”

Ammar: “We were living in a Christian town called Qaraqosh about 20 miles from Mosul. About 60,000 people used to live in Qaraqosh but now it is a ghost town. I was an art teacher. I also ran a mobile phone shop. I got married there and my two children were born there.”

FRRME: “Why did you leave Iraq?”

Ammar: “ISIS attacked Qaraqosh. There were three choices for us: convert to Islam, pay a tax, or leave. We decided to leave. We could not take anything with us, we left in our clothes and went to Erbil in Kurdistan. We stayed in Erbil for one month until we got visas for Jordan. When we got to Jordan, we lived in Marka for seven months in a church. It was a large hall with families separated by sheets. There was no privacy. It was 2 by 5 meters for each family. It was a bad life there. My children were sick and ended up in hospital. But FRRME paid for us to live in an apartment in Madaba. They continue to pay our rent.”

FRRME: “The choice that ISIS gave you, did they tell you that face-to-face?”

Ammar: “We didn’t hear this from them directly, we heard this from people who were living in Mosul. ISIS went to Mosul first and they told the Christians there this message. Those Christians then came to Qaraqosh and we all left together.”

FRRME: “It was reported that the tax didn’t always work in the way it was presented, that it was difficult to stay even if you did pay the tax. Is that correct?”

Ammar: “We heard that some of the Christian people decided to stay and pay the tax but when they went to the mosque to see how they will pay, the ISIS soldiers there refused and said this choice was no longer available. They said the Christians needed to convert to Islam or leave. They gave the Christians one week to leave Mosul, saying anyone who stayed in Mosul would be killed.”

FRRME: “Since you’ve been in Jordan, you’ve been helping us as a translator. Have you been able to do anything else to keep yourself occupied and to keep busy?”

Ammar: “I tried to work here in Madaba but I had a problem with my back and couldn’t work anymore. I thank God that FRRME paid for my surgery. It was very expensive. Of course I wouldn’t have been able to pay for this surgery myself. We have nothing. I keep myself busy by going to church and studying the Bible. I am now going to Theology seminary in Amman.”

FRRME: “Do you have any idea of how long it might be before you might be able to get asylum in a western country and emigrate?”

Ammar: “No one knows about this. Every month there are new rules. It used to take six months to leave from Jordan to Canada. Now it is at least ten months just to do the first asylum interview. After that you have to wait for another six to eight months. I applied to the Canadian embassy and I have already been here for two years. That means I will stay here over three years. I don’t know if I will survive being here for this long. And the UN is closed, especially for Iraqis and especially for Christians. Many times I went to the UN to renew my papers. When I go there, I saw the people that are going to leave. All of them were Muslim.”

FRRME: “If you make it to Canada, what would you do?”

Ammar: “I would hope to be a pastor.”

Making a donation to support our work

If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular 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.

UK residents can also make a donation via text message by following the instructions below:

Thank you for your support,
The FRRME Team

Weekly Media Summary 19 May 2017

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 and Jordan.

This week’s media summary includes news about the construction of Kurdistan’s largest church and a new cutting edge science centre in Jordan.

Iraq

Iraqi News: Migration Minister rejects forcible return of Iraqi externally-displaced refugees

Rudaw: Kurdistan’s largest church constructed in Ainkawa

Jordan

BBC News: Open Sesame: Science centre unveiled in Jordan

Newsweek: King Abdullah: “My friends, we will solve the problems of our region!”

First impressions by Helena Scott,  FRRME’s new Project Officer in Amman

May

After just two weeks in Amman, I’m already starting to feel at home here. This experience stands in stark contrast to the last city I lived in, Washington, D.C., which I came to love but where it took time to feel fully settled in. That memory fades into the distance now as I’m greeted with the warm hospitality ingrained and embedded deep into Arab culture. As a foreigner, I’ve been welcomed into the homes and places of worship of strangers immediately.

I was introduced to Father Emmanuel, a Syrian Orthodox Christian pastor, who at our first meeting gave me a welcome gift along with qahwah (coffee) and sweets. He showed me pictures of a toddler who was maimed and burned by “DAESH” (as he refers to ISIS) and goes into details about how the Church serves as a refuge for so many people in need – one of countless stories like this I’ve encountered since moving here.

It’s a humbling, shocking, and eye-opening experience to observe so many children, women, and men transplanted from their homes and lives, as they knew them. These families are uprooted yet positive, filled with hope and yearning for a better future, and a chance to rebuild the lives that were shattered by persecution and war.  For many, their hope is a result of their faith and convictions. FRRME/FRRME America’s involvement contributes to sustaining that hope, and I’m happy to witness this.

These families remind me that safety, security, and freedom of beliefs are luxuries that so many aren’t afforded. To many religious minorities throughout the Middle East, practicing religion is an active choice, one that can come with dire consequences, yet many still make the choice to express their faith and do not give up on their beliefs despite the risks and hardships they often experience as a result.

I recently met with one of several families who were directly threatened by ISIS. They fled Iraq in an attempt to stop the kidnapping of their 13-year-old daughter because of their Christianity. This meant leaving behind their livelihoods and starting afresh in an unknown place where they don’t have the right to make a living or get an education. Their daughter, now 16, once had dreams of becoming a doctor – but has yet to attend high school. To see this family’s ability to adapt and face the abrupt upheaval in their circumstances is truly inspiring.

Jordan – whose fabric and history is at once rich, diverse, and complex – needs the means and support to absorb the vast multitude of refugees being transplanted here. While D.C. is a diverse international hub, Amman and its surrounding towns serve as a melting pot of displaced people from around the Middle East. Irrespective of faith or nationality, the need for relief, assistance and hope is clear.

It is against this backdrop that FRRME/FRRME America has a direct way to help facilitate lasting impact and improve living circumstances for refugees undergoing immense hardship, and I look forward to helping continue these efforts.

Making a donation to support our work

If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular 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.

UK residents can also make a donation via text message by following the instructions below:

Thank you for your support,
The FRRME Team

Weekly Media Summary 12 May 2017

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 and Jordan.

This week’s media summary includes news about life under Isis in Mosul and development projects for refugees in Jordan.

Iraq

The Independent: Life after Isis: People of Mosul tell of horrors under the rule of ‘the devil’s murderers’

The New Arab: Poverty, war, bureaucracy: The obstacles hindering Iraq’s education sector

Jordan

The Jordan Times: Mulki inaugurates development projects in northern governorates

Middle East Online: Jordan looks for new answers to refugee crisis

Bombs in Baghdad but we are still there

St George’s Clinic

As Mosul is slowly retaken by Iraqi government forces, ISIS cells are ramping up attacks in Baghdad. In the month of April, sectarian violence claimed the lives of 317 people and caused injuries to 403 others in the city. This week, an employee of the Education Ministry was killed when an improvised explosive device was detonated in the Abu Ghraib district. Despite these attacks, Dr Sarah Ahmed, our Director of Operations in the Middle East, visited St George’s Church where we are fully funding a health clinic.

Dr Sarah Ahmed at St George’s Church clinic in Baghdad

The clinic is still run by Dr Duhair who is in charge of a team of 17 medical staff which includes 5 Physicians and 4 Dentists. The clinic provides basic medical care, diagnostic services, minor surgeries, orthopedic care, obstetrics and gynecology, dental operations and free prescriptions. It continues to treat 80-100 patients every day, regardless of age, gender or religion. The medical practice and medicines are all approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Health but the clinic itself is run entirely on donations.

Dr Duhair at St George’s clinic in Baghdad

Iraq’s healthcare system is in desperate need of money. Much of the healthcare currently being provided, particularly in the north of the country, is through international organisations such as Doctors Without Borders. However, the clinic at St George’s provides a unique opportunity to partner with local Iraqi healthcare professionals already in post.

The average cost of medical appointments is £28 / $36. The average cost of dental appointments is £22 / $28. The clinic continues to be in high demand and as of January 2017, there is a 2 week waiting list for an initial consultation.

Welcome to our newest team member!

 

A very special welcome to Helena Scott, who joins us as Project Officer in Jordan. Helena will be assisting the Iraqi Christian refugees who have fled Mosul and the Nineveh Plain and who are now living in Amman. Helena has an impressive CV and speaks Arabic. Click on the image below to read an article in the Episcopal News Service about her appointment:

As ever, your donations make all the difference. There have been very tentative moves this week from a handful of Christians to move back to Qaraqosh, a predominately Christian town 20 miles from Mosul. However, the vast majority are still languishing in church compounds in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, or are stranded waiting for asylum in Jordan and other Arab countries. If you would like to help them, please see the giving options at the bottom of this update.

Making a donation to support our work

If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular 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.

UK residents can also make a donation via text message by following the instructions below:

Thank you for your support,
The FRRME Team

Weekly Media Summary 5 May 2017

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 and Jordan.

This week’s media summary includes news about the ‘final push’ by Iraqi government forces to take Mosul from ISIS, and a two-day conference in Amman organised by Yarmouk University about the escalating refugee crisis in the Middle East.

Iraq

The Telegraph: Mosul offensive: Iraqi army launches ‘final push’ as army attacks Isil from north-west

Middle East Eye: Iraqi MPs call on Baghdad to block forced returns of Iraqi refugees

Jordan

The Jordan Times: Two-day global conference on refugee-related issues kicks off

Al-Monitor: Jordan’s photography festival captures snapshot of country’s history

 

How Christians in the West are saving Christians in Iraq

May

Last week a group of NGOs, including a representative from our Foundation, met with MEPs at the European Parliament in Brussels. The focus of the meeting was the persecuted church in the Middle East.

The desecrated and abandoned Church of the Immaculate Conception in the northern Iraqi town of Qaraqosh (photograph courtesy of FRRME trustee, Christopher Segar)

Many churches in the north of Iraq, particularly those in Mosul and the surrounding area, have been desecrated by ISIS – the walls covered in graffiti, the pews burnt, the ceilings blackened by fire. In the case of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qaraqosh (pictured above), the courtyard was used as a firing range. Thankfully, St George’s in Baghdad, which remains the only Anglican church in Iraq, endures, as does our health clinic in the church grounds which continues to treat people of all faiths.

Easter service at St George’s Church in Baghdad

However, despite the odd bit of good news, the future for Iraqi Christians looks very grim. In Brussels we presented MEPs with the facts: 175,000 Christians in Iraq have been utterly dependent these past 4 years on Churches and faith NGOs. While British and American governments have been very generous with taxpayers’ money, almost none of the aid given has reached the Christians. According to the 2011 census, the largest group in the UK is no longer Christian but that of “no faith”. Perhaps this is reflected in Government policy.

Children in the displacement camps of Iraqi Kurdistan this week (photograph courtesy of Dr Sarah Ahmed, FRRME’s Director of Operations in the Middle East)

According to figures released under a Freedom of Information Act request, less than 1% of refugees entering Europe are Christian or Yazidi, despite both groups being designated by the international community as victims of genocide. Private donations are drying up and yet many Christians are without any other form of funding. Despite our continued lobbying efforts, there has been a wall of silence from key policy makers and the mainstream media on this important issue.

With your support we continue to feed 7,000 displaced Christians in Iraq and Jordan through our food relief programmes (see above infographic). We hope in the near future that western governments, not just Christians in the West, will consider supporting the Christians of Iraq and in other countries in the Middle East where they are being persecuted. They have suffered for far too long.

Making a donation to support our work

If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular 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.

UK residents can also make a donation via text message by following the instructions below:

Thank you for your support,
The FRRME Team

May 2017 Prayer Diary

Please click the button below to read our monthly prayer diary:

May 2017 Prayer Diary

Please note that the Prayer Diary is also accessible through the new Prayermate App which can be accessed by following the instructions below:

Instructions for Prayermate App

Weekly Media Summary 28 April 2017

April

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 and Jordan.

This week’s media summary includes news about the interception of the world’s largest ransom in Iraq and the World Islamic Congress Meeting in Jordan.

Iraq

Independent: Iraq considers next move after intercepting ‘world’s largest’ ransom for kidnapped Qataris

The Telegraph: Isil ‘using foreign fighters for atrocities in Mosul’

Jordan

The Jordan Times: Conference begins to address challenges facing Islamic world

Al Monitor: War of words escalates between Jordan, Iran

 

 

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Insights from Sarah Ahmed, Director of Operations
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