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

Jerusalem International School of Reconciliation 2016

September

The Jerusalem International School for Reconciliation has again been held this summer. Around fifty people of different backgrounds and from a variety of countries came to the city for lectures and discussions about the realities of interfaith dialogue in the Holy Land.

Students at this year’s Jerusalem International School of Reconciliation

They came from America, Canada, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Singapore and Australia. Many are pastors, some are students of theology, some are studying or working on interfaith relations – and others are just ordinary people keen to deepen their knowledge of the issues facing this region today.

The school is again being held at Christ Church – in the Old City just inside the Jaffa Gate. Christ Church was founded in the 1840s and is the oldest Protestant church in the Middle East. The church, guest house and facilities provide a congenial framework for learning, discussion and fellowship. We are really grateful to the Rector, the Rev David Pileggi for all his support.

The Rev David Pileggi at Christ Church, Jaffa Gate

After opening discussions, the group had a most interesting day at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs looking at the current challenges facing the country and in particular the important role of relations with other faiths within the region and beyond. With the land’s dense and complex history, particularly in Jerusalem itself, archaeology and historical research can be very sensitive, as can Israel’s relations with organisations such as UNESCO.

Students at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

The group also visited Bethlehem to see the Governor of Bethlehem, the mayor of Bethlehem and the Minister of Tourism in the Palestinian Authority. There was a lively discussion of the difficulties facing communities in the West Bank – in particular maintaining access by foreign visitors to places like Bethlehem where pilgrimage is of great significance and where tourism is also therefore a key economic sector. Nurturing inter-community relations can have an important role to play.

This year’s programme again included a visit to Hebron to see first hand how the Tomb of Abraham has been adapted to accommodate both a mosque and a synagogue and to allow both Jewish and Muslim visitors to approach the cenotaphs of Abraham and Sarah. The group was also invited to meet with Archbishop Mor Severios Malke Mourad of the Syrian Orthodox Church. They then went to see the real Upper Room of St Mark’s Church, which was very moving.

The Cave of the Patriarchs, which houses the Tomb of Abraham
The real Upper Room at St Mark’s Church

The school has included specific presentations from each of the three Abrahamic faiths: Pastor Naim Khoury from the Baptist Church Bethlehem, Professor Avraham Tsvi from Jerusalem and Sheikh Hatem al-Bakri, Imam of the Abraham Mosque in Hebron. The group also visited Mount Gerizim to learn about the traditions and beliefs of the still flourishing Samaritan community.

In addition, both Rabbi Michael Melchior and Sheikh Imad al-Falouji have again given inspiring presentations on their own personal work to promote interfaith dialogue and to improve relations between the three main faiths in the Holy Land.

Rabbi Michael Melchior

This year, the school also invited speakers from NGOs active in interfaith relations and in humanitarian work within local and international communities. Kids4Peace has been particularly effective in working with school-age children in the different communities in Israel, while the international work of IsraAID touches communities of many persuasions in the region and beyond.

The school again concluded with a discussion led by Dr Petra Heldt of the Ecumenical Theological Research Fraternity in Israel (ETRFI) which concentrates on interfaith understanding between Jews and Christians.

This report was written by Christopher Segar who sits on FRRME’s Board of Trustees

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
 

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
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Insights from Sarah Ahmed, Director of Operations
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