Media Summary 21 August 2014

Each week we post a selection of recent online items where you can find out about the latest developments in Iraq. We hope this will help you in understanding the situation in which FRRME operates and in directing your prayers for Iraq.

This week’s edition features news on the political developments in Iraq following Maliki’s announcement that he will be stepping down as Prime Minister, the US military action in Iraq, and a newly released conflict analysis of Anbar Province.

Media Summary

Insight on Conflict: Security, Religion and Gender in Al-Anbar Province, Iraq

Al Jazeera: Top Kurdish Minister rejoins Iraq government

Al Jazeera: Obama vows to fight IS ‘cancer’ after killing

BBC: UN begins huge aid drop in Iraq

BBC: Mosul Dam: Why the Battle for Water Matters in Iraq

Canon Andrew White interviewed on BBC Radio 4

Should the UK offer asylum to Iraqi Christians?

The question recently has been: Should the UK offer asylum to Iraqi Christians? Today, on the 18th of August, Canon White gave his thoughts on the matter. He says, “I think that not only would it be wise, it would give them real hope.” He also emphasizes the desperate needs of the people, and calls on the Western community to help.

Relief Updates from Director of Projects, Dr Sarah Ahmed – August 2014

Updates August 11th, 2014:

Cradles! They are so important to people here. When I went around to ask about what people need or want, other than food and water, the first thing that came from their mouths was “Cradles”.

To me it is really interesting to see how mothers and fathers cry about getting a cradle to their child. It should be decorated, and prayers written all over it. They put the child in it, and rap it in ropes, then rock the kid to sleep.

This gift is the one that actually brought smiles to their faces! I felt so happy for this single moment of happiness. “I have a Cradle,” she said, then came and kissed me and said, “My baby can sleep now”.

I kept going back and forth from the carpenter shop to get cradles. There was no shop that had enough Cradles for all the families that we are helping. They need it so bad, that I really need to order some more. Blessings are on all those children and angels.

Peace and Love,
Dr. Sarah Ahmed

Photographs copyright: Because I Love Peace

Updates August 10th, 2014:

Most of the minority groups I met were from Shabak, Sinjar, Mahmodia, and Qaraqwish. There is huge amount of people between the roads, and in places that no one is reaching. Most of those people are either Shabak, Sinjar people or Ifeli Kurds. All those minorities are suffering too much under the current circumstances.

I provided again what the really wanted me to get for them: beds, pillows, and CRADLES (which appears to be an extreme necessity to be provided for the children). I got them some food as well but not as much as other things they really needed to live off. I got clothes but was not able to deliver a lot of it because the night came and I did not feel safe outside.

There are more than 5,000 people scattered between the roads and in all the old constructions sites. Some have nothing to live off, because they are way behind where nobody is checking. Also, I found more than a couple of families (probably around 9-13 members each) just living on the side of the road by their cars having nothing but 3000 ID in total (that equals $2 and 4 cents). Their kids were really sick as well. I got them proper Milk and diapers, but they need medical care.

Some told me the story of them leaving and it was heart-breaking: “They came and warned us to leave or to be killed! They got us all out and then said to the people ‘come take all that you want, it’s Shabak property and you can use it now, God says ok’ Aren’t we people?!” Their father told me. I asked, “Can you tell me if they are really humans like us? What do they look like?”. “Scary! I couldn’t look at their faces,” the Dad said. “They have no shoes and they look like idiots that know nothing about life,” the grandma said. “They have such a LONG beard and nasty eyes,” their child added.

Sometimes I feel that all this is unreal! There is so much badness being done, that humanity have to take a stand and see what is happening.

Peace and Love,
Dr. Sarah Ahmed

Photographs copyright: Because I Love Peace

Updates August 9th, 2014:

The US air force started the strikes yesterday, and people are between agreeing and neutral, but today there was a protest against it because apparently a lot of kids got killed and innocent people are being caught up in the way.

Today I tried to not overlook the other minorities that are affected by what is happening as they are also displaced from their homes. Most of the other minorities are the Shabak, Shingal people, Turkman, and Talaafar people (Mostly Shia). That’s not forgetting all the Christians and the Yazidies that I have been providing for, for the last three day.

I found the minorities in many places. They are living in clusters. I found them in a “car garage” – a place where one goes to grab a taxi, bus or an SUV to travel from Erbil to Baghdad or Najaf. More than 120 people, not counting the kids, were staying there with nothing to live off or sleep on. They were waiting to grab a cab or bus. The fee to Baghdad for a full car was $200, but they raised it to about $1,500 depending on if the driver was greedy or really greedy. I understand that the gas is now up to $1 a litre but still it is a time of crisis and we have an obligation to help each other.

There was probably between 17-20 families, and that would be too much money to get them to Baghdad and Najaf. But I could not just leave them there under the sun! I ended up renting a whole bus for all of them to get to where they wanted. It was risky and cost quite a bit of money, but JUST TODAY I CALLED AND MADE SURE THAT ALL OF THEM ARE SAFE IN BAGHDAD OR NAJAF. It was defiantly worth it. I want you to know that there are things that are being done to help all those people.

I spent the morning running to find those minorities! So the next place I found them was “road 100″ where there are three unfinished buildings. In each building there was about 250-350 people, meaning between 50-70 families. I got that figure from the leader of the bunch. Each unfinished building had a leader that took all their names and organized them, in case they got relief to distribute it per family. I went from one to another asking them what they needed. Most of them answered: Beds and pillows “We are sleeping on rocks and our pillows are our flip-flops”, clothes, “We have been wearing the same clothes for about a week now and some people are getting rashes and illnesses”, cradles “I have a 40 day old girl and she’s used to a cradle, she’s not sleeping anymore”.

Responding to all that my duty today was fun shopping, I shopped for beds, pillows, and cradles. I also shopped for things that I thought I would first need if I was displaced. I got: clothes, underwear, and flip flops. I kept shopping for that for about three hours to get all they needed, until shooting happened. There was a protest against the Arabs in Al-Qalla area, which is understandable because of all the tension, but for a minute it got out of hand. When people darted running, I started running as well, especially as I am an Arab and I was in the middle of it. My driver was shouting at me and trying to shield me (HE IS A KURD). He was yelling at me not to speak Arabic. After all the action before midnight we managed to drive back to the families, and gave them all they needed, and promised more tomorrow.

Mar Joseph, the Chaldean Catholic Church, which had the greatest number of Christian in it, closed its doors today. I called to know what the reason was, they told me because as I said in my earlier update that some centres had been opened for people to take shelter in, they evacuated people from the Church after lunch today. It’s sad though because I saw that so many Christians still on the streets, and I have no idea how long that will take.

I thought I should update you on all the things that are being done, not only to show you the suffering of the people. Today when I went to the smaller camps or the clusters of people whatever they are called, I was told, “Please Doctor, come join us. God protect you sleep here tonight.” They are being hospitable even when they have nothing but rocks to sleep on as beds and flip-flops as pillows. How amazing those people are…

Peace and Love
Dr. Sarah Ahmed

Photographs copyright: Because I Love Peace

Updates August 8th, 2014:

Today was a long day. My day started by going to look for bread for the camps. There was not much available because it’s Friday. I went to all parts of Erbil that I know of but didn’t find the amount I wanted. At the end I found good amounts got it with more food and relief.

Today a committee was established by all the institutes involved in relief, local organization, international organization in the ground and any part wants to help. We met to see what’s needed. In the meeting Erbil governor came to join effort with the local community and the Church. We have now one warehouse to have all the supplies provided by all parties willing to help. Then the supplies can be systematically distributed to all places that need relief. Also now there are Youth Centres and schools that opened for the refugees and the displaced families to sleep and live temporarily at, because most are sleeping in the streets.

Our FRRME relief: I took the camps (though mainly the church, which still has the greater number of people) so much food to be cooked. They have volunteers who come to cook and to serve the people, and one can jump to help if they are willing. The food fed so many families! When I asked last night about how many people ate today, the food was provide for more than 15,000 people (three times a day). Three meals were offered: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some organizations got simple things, but what they needed was: bread, chicken, eggs, rice, shalt, water, tomato paste, oil and all those in huge quantity.

Attending for the essentials, I forgot the most important thing, MEDICAL CARE. I went roaming around to ask people if they have chronic diseases. The amount of people was not shocking as so many of them are really older.

Tomorrow I’ll work on getting medicine and clothes because people have been wearing the same clothes for weeks now. I finished the day around 21:30 just because I was called to report for the BBC, tried my best to let them know what’s really happening and how our people are suffering.

Peace and Love
Dr. Sarah Ahmed

Photographs copyright: Because I Love Peace

Updates from Iraq August 7th 2014:

The situation is extremely hard. There were more than 30,000 families who left to Erbil today. They came from all around Mosul where IS is taking over. They came from: Baashiqa, Bartela, Karakosh, Alakosh and Betnia. They are what is left of our Christian communities there. People came with nothing but their clothes. I have visited two charities and coordinated with them, and am trying to get more involved. Today I went and got relief (FOOD, WATER, and HYGINE PRODUCTS) including freshly baked bread in huge quantity to more than 30,000 families. I stayed there even when people came and told me to go because I was the only Muslim there! I did not feel threatened though! People where in so great a need of everything. In a few hours Mar Yusif was filled with people. At night the number doubled. So the food that was cooked in the afternoon had to be tripled in the evening.

Pictures are not really appreciated at all. People feel that we are using them and humiliating them when we take pictures, even if you say you are a journalist. It is really hard when people are suffering. I tried to talk to them and tell them that the picture will tell their story, still not a lot were happy. I stayed and helped serving the food until midnight. As far as I saw, NO one slept hungry. I am going tomorrow at 6am to get them more food for breakfast and some essentials. As far as I can see I was the biggest contributor. The Church is not poor! I tried to talk to the Bishop responsible but he was too busy, and he looked the other way, but I held his arm and said we’ll help.

Thanks to the Plum’s who came in the beginning of the day and helped introduce me to some of the committees. Also, big thank to my driver Razgar who works with me hand in hand, in all I do. He never leaves my side and takes me to all places where I want to provide help. Thanks for FRRME UK, and FRRME America in joining efforts to support all this relief work. I would not be able to do what I do without all the funds that our supports provide, so thank you for all the people that donate.

I’m sorry for the short update, but there is absolutely no time to check emails to write updates. Please pray for all! And let me know if there is anything you can help with.

Peace and Love
Dr. Sarah Ahmed

Photographs copyright: Because I Love Peace

If you are a US citizen you can make a donation quickly and securely by visiting the FRRME America website at
www.frrmeamerica.org.

Reconciliation – New FRRME Video

Due to the current crisis in Iraq we have had a lot more people visiting our website. To let our new and old supporters find out more about who we are and what we do we will be posting a video a week for the next three weeks. This week Canon Andrew speaks about FRRME’s reconciliation work, looking at what reconciliation is and how we are able to achieve success.

Media Summary 14 August 2014

Each week we post a selection of recent online items where you can find out about the latest developments in Iraq. We hope this will help you in understanding the situation in which FRRME operates and in directing your prayers for Iraq.

This week’s edition features news on Iraq being upgraded to a humanitarian crisis on par with Syria and South Sudan, ongoing power struggles over Iraq’s leadership, and demands for greater US involvement.

BBC: Iraq: UN sounds alarm of humanitarian crisis

Al Jazeera: Iraq’s Shia now divided over new PM nomination

Daily Star: Anbar Governor seeks US help against ISIS

Al Jazeera: Iraq’s Kurds demand expanded US operation

TIME: Baghdad power struggle adds to Chaos in Iraq

Dr. Sarah Ahmed interviewed on CBN

Barbaric acts by ISIS

CBN, an American network, did a story on the situation in Iraq on Monday, August 11th. In the video they speak with Dr. Sarah Ahmed, and she compares the brutality shown to the Christians in Iraq to the Holocaust. She tells of the violent acts that are now happening constantly. ISIS has ravaged much of Iraq and part of Syria. The specific incidents being spoken of are unimaginable to most, and yet they are the startling reality. To read the article and watch the video, click HERE.

Copyright photo: Because I Love Peace

Canon Andrew White on BBC Newsnight

The persecution continues

On August 7th, Canon Andrew White was interviewed on BBC Newsnight. The plight of the Yazidis and other religious groups has been brought to attention as many are being forced to flee. Once again an ultimatum comes to the forefront of their reasons for leaving. The choice is this: Convert to Islam, Pay special taxes, or Be executed. This has led to the exodus we now see among the persecuted groups. Canon White says, “The international community needs to wake up to the needs of the people.” Those needs are rapidly growing as the people seek a safe haven.

CNN interviews Canon Andrew White

Can harmony be achieved in this generation?

On August 5th, CNN ran this story showing the dire situation of the Christians in Iraq. They interviewed Canon Andrew White, asking him if harmony could be achieved once again between religious groups. More specifically, can it be achieved in this generation? He responds with simply, “I don’t know.” The ultimatum given to Iraqi Christians coupled with increasing persecution makes it hard to tell.

About Us – New FRRME Video

Due to the current crisis in Iraq we have had a lot more people visiting our website. To let our new and old supporters find out more about who we are and what we do we will be posting a video a week for the next three weeks. This week Canon Andrew speaks about FRRME, how we came about and what our vision and mission are.

Media Summary 7 August 2014

Each week we post a selection of recent online items where you can find out about the latest developments in Iraq. We hope this will help you in understanding the situation in which FRRME operates and in directing your prayers for Iraq.

This week’s edition features atrocities committed against the Yazidi minority by IS, IS’ approach to Baghdad and Erbil in the north, and more new on Iraqi Christians who are fleeing.

Media Summary

Guardian: 40,000 Iraqis stranded on mountain as ISIS jihadists threaten death

Al Arabiya: Kurdish forces, ISIS clash near Arbil

Al Jazeera: Iraqi airstrike ‘kills scores of IS fighters’

The Daily Star: ISIS aims at Baghdad from south

Rudaw: Lebanese Churches struggle with flood of Iraqi Christians

 

BREAKING NEWS

BBC: Christians flee as Iraq town taken

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Insights from Sarah Ahmed, Canon Andrew's PA in Baghdad
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