Humanitarian appeal for Iraqi IDPs and Refugees

March

Thousands of innocent civilians, many of them children, are fleeing the war-torn streets of Mosul. According to the latest UN figures, over 195,000 people are currently being sheltered in 21 camps on the outskirts of the city. Our team on the ground has visited two of these camps – Khazir and Chamakor – delivering food and water to thousands of starving and displaced people.

While many hope for an end to the war in Northern Iraq, extreme sectarian violence has become the norm, with rival groups fighting for power and land. Consequently, the humanitarian crisis in the region has grown exponentially with over 3 million people displaced from their homes, with 1 million people needing daily humanitarian assistance.

As a Christian charity, our calling is to help the dispossessed regardless of creed. Through our unique partnership with the Syrian Orthodox and Armenian churches in Northern Iraq, as well as our partnership with the Bishara organisation, we continue to feed 5,000 families every month (this includes Christians, Muslims and Yazidis).

Through our partnership with four churches in Jordan, we are supporting hundreds of Iraqi Christian families who have fled to Amman and are waiting for asylum in the West (a process which can take up to 3 years). In addition to monthly food packages, we also provide money for sheltered accommodation.

As a registered charity we operate within the framework set out by the Charity Commission for England and Wales (our charity number is 1133576). As a registered charity, your donations also qualify for Gift Aid. In 2016, we raised an additional £108,511 in Gift Aid from the donations made to us. This money equates to an extra 650 emergency food packages per month.

As ever, your support makes our work possible. To make a donation, please see the giving options below. Here is an infographic showing how your donations will help.

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 make a donation via text message by following the instructions below:

Thank you,
The FRRME Team

Giving clothes to Iraqi Christians in Ankawa

March

Thousands of people continue to flee the war-torn streets of western Mosul. This week, there has been heavy fighting around the Grand Mosque where Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaimed himself Caliph in July 2014. According to the latest UN figures, over 195,000 people from Mosul are currently being sheltered in 21 camps on the outskirts of the city.

Two children recently arrived at Chamakor camp in eastern Mosul

The situation in Iraqi Kurdistan to the east of Mosul is comparatively stable but there are still a huge number of IDPs living there. Our team on the ground this week visited a camp in Ankawa, a suburb north of Erbil. The camp shelters approximately 5,500 people, mostly Christian, which includes more than 2,000 children. With your support, we provided 600 school children (age 10 – 16) with new clothes.

Iraqi Christian children at Ankawa IDP camp receiving shirts given to them by our team on the ground

Dr Sarah Ahmed, FRRME’s Director of Operations in the Middle East, also opened a new football pitch in Harsham camp which is next to Ankawa. The camp’s occupants are predominately Muslim, with IDPs coming from Mosul and the Nineveh Plain. As well as supporting this football project, we continue to support an all-girls school in the camp which educates 30 girls between the ages of 11 – 14.

Iraqi IDPs playing football in Harsham camp
Support for our work 

Thanks to St Simon’s in Southsea for their support of our work this Lent. Despite having to raise money for repairs to their church, the congregation has also committed to raising funds for the care of persecuted Christians in Iraq.

As ever, your support makes our work possible. To make a donation, please see the giving options below. Here is an infographic showing how your donations will help.

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 The Winter Crisis Appeal for Iraqi Refugees by clicking here.

Thank you,

The FRRME Team

Caught in the crossfire – an update  on the situation in Mosul

March

In recent weeks, the political and humanitarian situation in Northern Iraq has worsened. In January, Iraqi government forces recaptured the eastern half of the city but the western half remains under the control of Islamic State. Civilians are being caught in the crossfire.

Since last month, 45,000 people are reported to have fled the city, many without shoes on their feet. They are now homeless, without food or water. Wet and cold weather has added to their misery. There have also been reports of chemical weapons, with the International Committee of the Red Cross treating 12 people, including women and children, for suspected exposure to blistering agents.

The fighting has moved to the congested streets of the old city, making it very difficult to defeat what remains of Islamic State in Iraq. Despite recent reports that the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has fled, field commanders and die hard followers continue to put up fierce resistance.

Last week, the Iraqi government opened the Hammam al-Alil displacement camp in southeastern Mosul which is able to accommodate around 4,000 families. However, the camp’s facilities are reportedly very poor and the camp is nowhere near big enough to cater for the 100,000 people that are expected to flee western Mosul in the coming weeks. The UNHCR is currently building an additional camp at Hamman al-Alil that can accommodate up to 40,000 people.

We continue to work with partners on the ground to provide emergency food relief to thousands of internally displaced people every month. We mainly distribute to the IDP camps in Iraqi Kurdistan to the east of Mosul, however we have also distributed food and water at Khazir Camp on the outskirts of the city. See the below infographic for details of how your donations will help:

As ever, your support makes our work possible. To make a donation, please see the giving options below.

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 The Winter Crisis Appeal for Iraqi Refugees by clicking here.

Thank you,
The FRRME Team

Helping Iraqi Christian refugees in Amman

February

As a registered charity, we take our governance very seriously and insist on strong oversight to ensure we are fulfilling our mission. One way this happens is when our trustees visit our projects on the ground to see for themselves how your donations are continuing to make a positive impact. Below is a report from Christopher Segar, who served as Head of Mission in Iraq for the British Government between 2003 – 2004, and now serves as one of our trustees.

Our ongoing work in Jordan

Christian families continue to arrive in Jordan from war-torn Iraq. Most families hope of emigrating to Australia or Canada but this can take a long time. Pastor You, one of the church leaders we are working with in Amman, estimates that the average wait is 2 ½ years, and families need about 10,000 Jordanian Dinar (£12,000 / $15,000) per year to keep going. Given the terrible persecution they have suffered, very few families plan to return to Iraq.

The congregation at Pastor You’s Assemblies of God Church

The Assemblies of God Church is a “house church” run by Pastor You, his wife and two small sons on the ground floor of their villa in Madaba, an ancient town southwest of Amman. During our visit, we attended the monthly distribution of food coupons which are provided for by FRRME and cost £15 / $19 per family. Around 70 families in Madaba receive these coupons and the process is handled meticulously by Mrs You and her assistants.

Christopher Segar with Sarah Ahmed (FRRME Director of Operations) and Pastor Zaki Copti

Zaki Copti pastors the Nazarene Church in Gardens, a district of Amman long popular with Iraqi expatriates. There is a lively service on Sunday evenings (which is a working day in Jordan) with more than 100 people attending. The large villa has been adapted to provide facilities for the increasing numbers of Iraqi refugee families. Our regular food package contributions are much appreciated, as was the late delivery of Christmas Cards we handed out at the end of the service (written by our supporters in the US).

Father Immanuel of the Syrian Orthodox Church

Our biggest church partner in Jordan is the Syrian Orthodox Church and Father Emmanuel. Our partnership with him and his church in Sweifieh remains strong and we continue to feed more than 500 families there to the tune of £4,000 / $5,000 per month. We are also maintaining our relationship with Father Bolis at the Greek Catholic Church in Fuhais, although Father Bolis is currently in Australia.

If you would like to support our work please see the giving options at the bottom of this newsletter. Below is an infographic outlining our core commitments in Jordan.

Did you know?
 

We are registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales. Please type our charity number (1133576) into the search box for more information about how your donations are helping.

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 The Winter Crisis Appeal for Iraqi Refugees by clicking here.

Thank you,

The FRRME Team

Caring for displaced children in Northern Iraq

February

Last week we shared an update from one of our Trustees, Christopher Segar, who recently went to Northern Iraq to see for himself the positive impact our work is having. This week’s update is about the children’s projects we are supporting, which include  a kindergarten in Erbil, a girls school in Harsham Camp, and an Autism Centre in Kirkuk.

Um al Noor Kindergarten
 

The Um al Noor Kindergarten is run by the Syrian Orthodox Church and is based in a large villa in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. It caters for around 130 Christian children, mainly from the camps and from the congregation in Erbil. The children only pay if they can and we continue to contribute £4,000 ($5,000) for each school year.

The eight teachers at Um al Noor are led by Mrs Amira Aqrawi who is herself is an IDP from the recently liberated eastern part of Mosul. Mrs Aqrawi says she is reluctant to go back there given the terrible persecution suffered by Christians in the city under Islamic State.


Girls school in Harsham Camp
 

There are currently 30 girls enrolled at our girls school in Harsham Camp north of Erbil, but this could go up to 60. The four cabins that make up the school are self-contained and transportable. The curriculum is certified by the Iraqi Ministry of Education. Currently, the Emirates Red Crescent is responsible for a majority of the housing units at Harsham, while we are providing regular food deliveries for the girls and the staff.

Autism Centre in Kirkuk

The Autism Centre in Kirkuk is the brainchild of Dr Firmaisek Jaleel who herself had two autistic children and found absolutely no arrangements to support them anywhere in the Iraqi educational or medical institutions. Children like this in Iraq have traditionally just been classified as mad and shut away. Dr Jaleel derives all her diagnostic principles and training methods from publications (in French) from Lebanon. Our support has allowed her to expand and cater for 85 children who are looked after by a team of 22 carers.

Our mission

According to the ‘Education Cannot Wait’ initiative, “education appeals receive less than 2% of humanitarian funding”. That is why we are focused on supporting the above projects. We recognised very early on, following the Islamic State incursion into Northern Iraq, that many children would be denied an education and, for the most vulnerable, the care they need. With your support, we will continue to fund these vital projects.

Did you know?

We are registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales. Please type our charity number (1133576) into the search box for more info about how your donations are helping.

How you can help

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 The Winter Crisis Appeal for Iraqi Refugees by clicking here.

Thank you,

The FRRME Team

Update from our girls school in Harsham camp

January

According to the UN, 70% of internally displaced children in Iraq have now missed at least one year of school. The longer these children are out of the education system, the harder it is to get back in. However, thanks to Dr Sarah Ahmed, our Director of Operations in the Middle East, 30 girls are now being educated at our school in Harsham camp north of Erbil.

The school is situated next to a boys primary school. The current intake of girls are aged between 11 -14. Later this year we are hoping to set up a class for 15 – 18 year olds. The Iraqi Ministry of Education provides the curriculum as well as stationary and other essentials. We provide the school with food and contribute towards the upkeep of the buildings. In the future, funds permitting, we would like to provide a room for the teaching staff.

One of the girls at our school in Harsham

The UN estimates that up to half of children in IDP camps in Iraq are unable to attend school, putting them at risk of falling into child labour or, in the case of many girls, ending up as child brides. With this in mind, and thanks to your support, we are happy to report that the girls at Harsham are thriving. Please click on the image below to watch a short video of the school.

Click on the above image to watch the video

For her work in Northern Iraq, Dr Sarah was honoured this week with an award from the Kurdish Regional Government. As an Iraqi Muslim working for a Christian charity helping the displaced and the dispossessed, regardless of creed, Dr Sarah is the embodiment of what we do. We are very proud of her.

The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME) is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales. To support our work, please see the giving options below.

How you can help

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 The Winter Crisis Appeal for Iraqi Refugees by clicking here.

Thank you,

The FRRME Team

We are funding 42 students at the new Catholic University in Erbil

December

The American arm of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East will be funding 42 students at the new Catholic University in Erbil, Northern Iraq. Below is a short video (in Sorani Kurdish) which gives you some idea of what the university looks like. 42 students represents 100% of the internally displaced people attending the university.

The university is a non-profit institution which is open to students of all faiths, cultures and beliefs. Its educational mission is clear: “Students are challenged to engage directly in the world and learn the habits that will support a life of service to our fellow citizens, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of the community.” It is thanks to you, our supporters, that we are able to support these students.

An update on the humanitarian crisis in Northern Iraq
 
 

The campaign to oust Islamic State from Mosul is in its ninth week. Recent new reports assert that Iraqi government forces have retaken a quarter of the city, however thousands of civilians, many of them women and children, are still trapped. Since the fighting began, the UN estimates that 91,000 people have been displaced.

This harrowing report in The Independent tells of the unspeakable cruelty suffered by civilians in Mosul at the hands of Islamic State: “Infractions were punished by fines, flogging, amputations and death by a variety of gory execution methods including shooting, beheading, drowning, stoning and – reportedly – being roasted alive in a commercial oven.” Many of the victims were Christian.

We are continuing to feed thousands of people in the IDP camps of Northern Iraq, including Khazir Camp on the outskirts of Mosul. Temperatures are set to drop to below zero this week and many of the people we are helping do not even have shoes. If you would like to help us provide for these people, please see the giving options below.

How you can help

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 The Winter Crisis Appeal for Iraqi Refugees by clicking here.

Thank you,

The FRRME Team

We are reaching people other charities are not

December

A new report by NPC, a charity think think, draws the conclusion that: “faith-based charities are an important part of the voluntary sector and wider society. They can reach groups other charities cannot.. and their values motivate them to help those who are most in need.” The final line of the report reads: “what matters is the impact they are having on the lives of those they seek to help.” We couldn’t agree more. A link to the report is at the bottom of this newsletter.

Accolades for our work in Iraq

As a UK-registered charity working on the front line in Iraq, we want to show you how your donations are helping. We do this through our weekly updates, social media posts, and thank you letters. With your help, Christian charity is making a positive impact in the region – we are feeding the displaced, sheltering the persecuted, educating the forgotten, and offering hope to the desperate. Last week, our work in Iraq received two accolades:

The above award was presented to Dr Sarah Ahmed, FRRME’s Director of Operations in the Middle East, in recognition of our work in Kirkuk where we have set up a school for children with special educational needs. FRRME also appeared on a World magazine list of 17 aid agencies which have established exceptional aid provision in Northern Iraq. It is thanks to you, our supporters, that our work in Iraq continues to have such a positive impact.

Providing for Iraqi Christian refugees in Jordan

As the battle for Mosul forces more Iraqi Christians to flee to Jordan, FRRME continues to ensure that these people are properly looked after. Last week in Amman we gave out 70 kerosene heaters and 100 blankets to families who have recently-arrived from the Nineveh Plain, much of which is still under Islamic State control.

As highlighted in a recent newsletter, many of these people fall through the cracks of the big aid agencies and international organisations, but with your support we are continuing to help them.

To access the NPC report, titled “What a difference a faith makes”, please click here.

How you can help

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 The Winter Crisis Appeal for Iraqi Refugees by clicking here.

Thank you,

The FRRME Team

An update on our relief work in the IDP camps of Northern Iraq

December

Mosul
Since the battle for Mosul began last month, the UN estimates that 70,000 civilians have fled the city. Many of these people have spent two years living under the tyranny of Islamic State and have risked their lives to reach safety. Below is an update showing how your donations are helping us to help them.

New all-girls school in Harsham Camp

One of our new projects is an all-girls school in Harsham Camp north of Erbil. This short video from The Associated Press gives you some idea of what the camp is like. While conditions are tough, our new school will provide displaced girls with an education, which in turn will give them a sense of normality and, we hope, a better future. Given the crippling lack of education, particularly in Northern Iraq, we consider this an emergency project. Click on the below image to watch a short video clip of the school.

Click on the image to watch the video
Hot food kitchen in Debaga Camp

Approximately 30,000 people live in Debaga Camp south of Erbil, which is now one of the biggest IDP camps in Northern Iraq. The camp continues to fill up, with thousands more people expected to arrive as the battle for Mosul intensifies. Those who make it there have walked across mine-strewn battlefields and roads and are often in a state of semi-starvation when they arrive. In partnership with the Barzani Charity Foundation, we are feeding approximately 7,000 IDPs twice a day. The hot food we provide is often the first hot food they have eaten in weeks or even months.

Providing hot food for internally displaced people in Debaga Camp
IDP job creation in Baharka Camp

Baharka is a small camp north of Erbil, although its population has risen considerably in recent months. Tented accommodation is provided by the UN and the majority of the food needs are met by the World Food Programme. However, we supplement the food ration with additional items such as qishta (a type of Iraqi cheese) and fresh bread. In the process, we employ a handful of IDPs who help distribute this food. Job creation is vital as it helps create purpose and gives a small stipend to people who have nothing.

Our team of IDP relief workers in Baharka Camp
Front line relief in Khazir Camp

Khazir is on the outskirts of Mosul, Islamic State’s de facto capital in Iraq. Many of those who arrive at the camp haven’t eaten or drunk anything in days. Many arrive without winter clothes or shoes. The weather is starting to get worse in the region, with sub-zero temperatures possible. Our team in Khazir has been handing out water, food and shoes to the most vulnerable, an act of charity made possible by your continued support.

An Iraqi IDP girl collects qishta and bread from one of our food stations

If you would like to find out more about our work, please visit our website by clicking here, or our Facebook page by clicking here.

Thank you,

The FRRME Team

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

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Insights from Sarah Ahmed, Director of Operations
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