How your support is helping Iraqi Christian refugees in Jordan 

September

Last week we introduced our new initiative – Voices of Iraq – a project to give displaced Iraqi Christians a voice. Some of these people have made their way to Jordan where, thanks to your continued support, they are slowly rebuilding their shattered lives.

With the money you gave us, we delivered clothing coupons to 510 children from all over Jordan. Buses brought them to the distribution point, the Syrian Orthodox Church in Amman, which is run by our dear friend and partner Father Emmanuel.

Distributing clothing coupons at the Syrian Orthodox Church
 

Our English language class at the Nazarene Church continues to grow – there are now 20 refugees in the class, most of whom fled Baghdad and Qaraqosh. The class recently discussed “Hopes and Dreams”. All of them expressed their desire to leave the Middle East and resettle in the West where they can live in peace with their families.

An Iraqi Christian woman and her son buy vegetables with the food coupon we gave her
 

At the Assemblies of God Church, which is run by Pastor You and his family, we gave out vouchers to 115 refugee families which were used to buy fresh food. We are also continuing our support for a trauma and healing workshop for women who have experienced domestic violence.

A choir singing at the Cultural Arts Festival at the Greek Catholic Church
 

The Greek Catholic Church in Amman recently hosted a Cultural Arts Festival where refugees expressed themselves through art and music. Our support for the church, which includes a monthly stipend for food relief, is received with love and appreciation by the congregation.

Please support our work and make a donation

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 humanitarian appeal by clicking here.

Thank you for your support!

The FRRME Team

Voices of Iraq

September

The persecuted Christians of Iraq have not been heard strongly enough in the corridors of government or in the media. With that in mind, here they are, in their own words. If you would like to help them, please support our work and make a donation (giving options at the bottom of this update). N.B. Raed asked that we did not show his face.

Alen

“In Mosul the situation was very bad, especially for the Christians. We were afraid of them and afraid for our lives. It was too dangerous to stay in Iraq.”

 

Ammar

“I was living in Qaraqosh, a town with just Christian people. About 60,000 people lived there. I was an art teacher and I also had a mobile phone shop. In 2014 ISIS attacked Qaraqosh. There were three choices for us – convert to Islam, pay the Jizya (tax for non-Muslims), or be killed. We fled Qaraqosh in just our clothes.”

 

 

 

Imad
 

“I was living near Mosul. During the war (2003 invasion), people were being killed according to their identity. I saw my friends in a car near my house get killed.”

 

Afnan

 

“Living as a Christian in Iraq is very hard, especially for girls. You cannot go out or do anything. They think that it’s okay for Christians to do anything or wear anything we want because they think Christianity is what they see on TV or in the movies, that you can do anything – sleep around, drink alcohol, do drugs, do whatever you want. This is the image of Christianity in the mind of many Muslims.”

 

Michael
 

 

“In Mosul I had a restaurant but they blew it up because I am Christian. After that I went back to Qaraqosh which was a safe place. When ISIS came there in 2014 I left everything behind and went to Jordan.”

 

 

 

 

 

Raed

“My wife and I left the day before ISIS came into the town. My wife was about to give birth so I had to make preparations and go quickly. The hard part for me was leaving my parents and brother behind. I will never hold a gun. I won’t fight for land. The most important thing for me is that my family is safe.”

 

Making a donation

With your support, we provide monthly food, shelter and medical care to 700 Iraqi Christian families in Jordan. If you would like to help us in our mission, please see the giving options below.

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 humanitarian 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

Amid the Baghdad bombings, we deliver food to the Christians

August

Baghdad has been rocked by more sectarian violence this week. On Monday, a massive car bomb ripped through a packed market in the Shiite district of Sadr City. 12 people were killed and 28 wounded. Despite the danger, we are continuing to deliver aid to members of the congregation at St George’s, the only Anglican Church in Iraq.

The above picture is of an Iraqi Christian woman we are helping called Um Masara. She is a widow with three children, one of whom is autistic and also suffers from epilepsy. The four of them live in the Mansour district of Baghdad. With your support, we have been helping Um Masara and her children for four years now, providing them with food packages and medical assistance at our free health clinic at St George’s Church.

This week, we delivered food supplies to Debaga Camp in northern Iraq where approximately 30,000 internally displaced people live in cramped conditions. The food we delivered included cooking oil, rice, tomatoes, potatoes, fresh chicken, lentils, onions, aubergines, fresh bread and qishta (cheese). The people we fed are Sunni Muslims, the largest displaced group in northern Iraq.

While we are working hard to feed the dispossessed, Islamic State fighters are holed-up around the city of Tel Afar 40 miles west of Mosul. Reuters quoted an Iraqi army officer this week who said that breaching the first line of the militants’ defense in the town of Ayadiya was like opening “the gates of hell”. It is a stark and unsettling reminder that the fighting is not over.

If you would like to support our mission, please see the giving options below. Our work is made possible by your generous and continued support.

Making a donation

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 humanitarian 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

An update on our reconciliation work

August

We are moving our reconciliation work forward. In the past, we connected with religious leaders, people whose influence we relied upon to make a positive impact. Post-ISIS, there must also be a political settlement. The future of Iraq will be decided at a governmental level, although religious leaders will of course play a role.

We are now working as part of an NGO caucus lobbying ministers to put the plight of Christians and other persecuted minorities at the heart of government policy. As our new CEO, Mike Simpson, said last week: “Iraqi Christians have not been heard strongly enough in the corridors of government or in our media.” We want to change this.

Last week, a letter was delivered to the Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel. It was signed by FRRME Trustee, Christopher Segar (former Head of Mission in Iraq for the British government), and a number of other Christian charities and MPs. In no uncertain terms it calls on the British government to allocate more funds for displaced Iraqi Christians and Yazidis. Here is an excerpt:

“… nothing has been allocated to date for the many thousands of Christians and Yazidis who lost their homes 3 years ago (including in Mosul) and who are now faced with a grave humanitarian and existential crisis… the same story also applies to the many thousands of Christians across the rest of Iraq, and into Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Syria, who are being cared for by other churches and faith-based NGOs but who have received entirely insufficient UN support.”

This must change. Western governments must do more to help Iraqi Christians, as must the UN. Indeed, despite the UN’s commitment to providing humanitarian aid, this has not reached the Iraqi Christians. Going forward, we will be putting this case to more decision makers.

A Future for Iraqi Christians DVD

 


We have produced a short film called ‘A Future for Iraqi Christians’ which gives an overview of our mission. A DVD of the film is available for £5 plus £2.20 P&P from our shop. To order a copy please click here.

Making a donation

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 humanitarian 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

A message from our new Chief Executive

August

I am delighted to join The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME) as the new Chief Executive. FRRME is a unique charity working with many thousands of Iraqis who have been forced from their homes and terrorised beyond belief.

Iraq has been in our news so much over the last few years that we may get anaesthetised to the tragedy and horror we see on our screens and read in our newspapers. The news has often focused on the war and all the political controversy about it, but the humanitarian crisis facing Iraq now looks likely to last long after the last shots have been fired.

The latest UN figures show that 3.4 million Iraqis have been displaced, with 11 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. In particular, over 1 million Christians have fled their homes as a consequence of the sectarian violence and under the threat of so-called Islamic State. This represents over three quarters of the Christian population of the Country! It is a crisis of truly biblical proportions.

FRRME has been at the coalface of this crisis for over two years now, providing emergency relief to thousands of displaced Christians living in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, as well to many others living in internal displacement camps across northern Iraq.

I am passionate about leading our team to build on their excellent work and to help the Christians of Iraq to tell their story. Their voices have certainly not been heard strongly enough in the corridors of government or in our media.

For me, this is an exciting and unique opportunity after over 30 years working in the charity sector, mainly at CEO level. Over the years I have worked with all kinds of disadvantaged groups including homeless young people, drug addicts, the unemployed, families suffering from the effects of domestic abuse, and those struggling with huge debts. I have also worked across religious divides in Israel / Palestine, seeking to build bridges of understanding.

I am passionate about working with the FRRME team to develop our work across the Middle East and to truly manifest Christian faith and compassion in action.

Mike Simpson, 17 August 2017

This week in Iraq

It is a month since the battle for Mosul came to an end and revenge is rife. Rotting corpses have been seen floating down the Tigris, their hands tied behind their backs. Some are IS fighters. Some are civilian collaborators. Some are the victims of the (Shia dominated) Iraqi army, killed simply for being Sunni. How can we stop this cycle of homicidal retribution? What future is there for the Christians caught in the middle of the violence?

We have delivered emergency relief to 17 IDP camps across northern Iraq and Kurdistan
 

While a post-conflict settlement has yet to be agreed, the humanitarian needs in Iraq are greater than ever. We are continuing to provide emergency relief (food, water, medical supplies) to 7,048 internally displaced Iraqi Christians in northern Iraq and Baghdad. This includes 140 people at St George’s Church where we fully fund a free health clinic. We also continue to support 700 Iraqi Christian families in Jordan. Currently, 50% of our total funding is spent supporting the persecuted church.

Dr Sarah Ahmed, our Director of Operations in the Middle East, 
feeds a young girl recently fled from Mosul

Our work is made possible by your generous donations. If you would like to support our mission helping Iraqi Christians and other persecuted religious groups, please see the giving options below.

Making a donation

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 humanitarian 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

Surviving in Jordan – An Update from our Project Officer in Amman

August

Three months after moving to Jordan from the US and I am writing with hope, determination and an increased thirst to help the Iraqi Christian refugees here. In July I set up an English class in Madaba, a city to the south of Amman, which has given me the opportunity to get to know the people we are helping.

Iraqi children at our English class in Madaba draw their family trees
 

Last week, I visited a family recently arrived from a displacement camp in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. Thanks to your support, they are now living in a small apartment in Amman. They are so grateful for the improved living conditions we have been able to provide. In Iraq, the husband, Rafed, was a civil engineer. His face lit up as he spoke about his past. He showed me photos of churches in Iraq he helped design and build. Despite his new life as a refugee, he is happy that his family are safe from the sectarian violence they saw in their homeland. Before FRRME came to their aid, his wife was forced to sell all her jewellery to pay for food. However, she told me she managed to hold on to her wedding ring.

Rafed’s wife and children
 

This week I visited another family. The dad, Wassim, is a former IT manager who worked on computers for the US Army and NATO forces. Wassim and his family arrived in Jordan a year and a half ago. Prior to that, they lived in a displacement camp in Erbil. While it is tough in Jordan – Wassim toils as a labourer seven days a week and is only paid £7 / $10 per day – he really appreciates his new life. He is extremely grateful for the support we give him and his family which includes monthly food packages. Despite feeling exhausted from work, Wassim is hopeful that things will get better. He and his family dream of going to Australia but the asylum process can take years.

Wassim with his children
 

After three months in Jordan, I feel I am really getting to know the families we are helping. My eyes have been opened to the challenges and hardships they endure on a daily basis. Our mission is to help make their lives a little bit easier. Whether this is through the provision of food packages, rent money, or English classes, with your support we will continue to give them hope for the future.

Blog written by Helena Scott, FRRME’s Project Officer in Jordan.

A Future for Iraqi Christians DVD
 


We have produced a short film called ‘A Future for Iraqi Christians’ which gives an overview of our mission. A DVD of the film is available for £5 plus £2.20 P&P from our shop. To order a copy please click here.

Making a donation

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 humanitarian appeal by clicking here.

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

Stewardship

We are registered with Stewardship, which has set up a support fund for our foundation. You can also support us by making gifts to Stewardship for our fund. Where applicable, the value of your gifts may be increased by use of Gift Aid (worth 25% if you are a UK taxpayer). Please see the attached FORM. Once complete, please return to: Stewardship, Unit A, 1 Lamb’s Passage, London EC1Y 8AB.

Thank you for your support,

The FRRME Team

Telling the Untold: “A Future for Iraqi Christians” DVD

August

Reconciliation at its most basic is the ability to live alongside one’s neighbour, building stable communities, without fear of retribution, and yet acknowledging the need for accountability. FRRME exists to promote conflict resolution and reconciliation in the Middle East, seeing peace building through the reconciliation of communities and economic rejuvenation.

Our work, made possible with your support, continues to communicate the untold stories to a wider audience. We have produced a DVD ‘A Future for Iraqi Christians’, which is a 10 minute file about our work, available for £5 plus £2.20 P&P from our shop HERE

The IDPs and refugees we help with your support have been part of a war which has been labelled the worst human disaster since World War II, with incalculable effects for the civilian population in terms of forced displacement and human suffering. There are been a particular measured impact on the religious minorities of Iraq (and Syria), in some cases with numbers down by 80% (reference Centre on Global Migration CGM). The suffering we have heard of is, at its very least, the destruction of livelihoods such as the experiences of Alen or Ammar and his family we have reported in previous weeks, Iraqi Christian refugees forced to flee for their lives to the relative safety of Jordan.  At its most extreme, it has been the attempted genocide of the indigenous people of Iraq.

As the post-ISIS conflict era emerges, FRRME is committed to the process of peace building through reconciliation, activated by the awareness of relief needs reported by our Director of Operations in the Middle East and Project Officers. Much of this is achieved through the building of partnership with Iraqi NGOs partners and church leaders, many of whom attended the recent meeting in Brussels entitled ‘A Future for Christians in Iraq’, at which FRRME was represented.

Dr. Sarah Ahmed, FRRME Director of Operations in the Middle East, celebrates the freedom of a baby born into slavery under the rule of Daesh (ISIS).

The UK Government are providing over £15m of support for UN stabilisation efforts in Iraq, working alongside Iraqi NGOs to provide security, reconstruction and reconciliation. However 2 years of extreme suffering under ISIS control has severely tested the resilience of the people of Iraq, and in particular the minorities whose communities have been broken. This is where your support, both financial and through prayer, is so important. The untold suffering and rejection goes to the very heart of individuals and communities, affecting the greatest to the least.

At the Brussels conference “A Future for Christians in Iraq”, His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of Antioch and all the East, Syriac Orthodox Church summarised this frustration of Iraqi Christians on the subject of ‘Our Last Stand: Saving Christianity in Iraq’.  His impassioned appeal on their behalf was simple:

  • To live with dignity on their forefathers lands;
  • The need of homes, regardless of political definition, with the freedom to practice their religion in dignity
  • The need to define the status of their homes in agreement and cooperation with the Iraqi Government and the Kurdish Regional Government.
  • For aid provision to continue to reach those most in need. There were still many cases of people with no water or facilities, still living in tents for 2 years.
  • The longer resolution would take, the less who would wish to stay.

Please click HERE to order a copy of our DVD ‘A Future for Iraqi Christians’ available at our shop for £5 plus £2.20 P&P. We hope to introduce more people to our mission to serve the disenfranchised, dispossessed and the displaced.

Many thanks, the FRRME Team.

Making a donation

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 humanitarian appeal by clicking here.

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

Stewardship

 We are registered with Stewardship, which has set up a support fund for our foundation. You can also support us by making gifts to Stewardship for our fund. Where applicable, the value of your gifts may be increased by use of Gift Aid (worth 25% if you are a UK taxpayer). Please see the attached FORM. Once complete, please return to: Stewardship, Unit A, 1 Lamb’s Passage, London EC1Y 8AB.

8 churches in Baghdad close… but we are still there

August

Baghdad

CBN News reports this week that eight Catholic churches in Baghdad were closed in May. The decision, taken by the Vatican, is the result of a dwindling congregation, many of whom have fled the city or are too afraid to go to Sunday Mass. Despite this sad news, we will continue to fund the health clinic at St George’s Church and provide food packages to members of the congregation there.

St George’s in Baghdad, the only Anglican Church in Iraq
 

For those wanting to support our work at St George’s, here is a reminder of what the clinic offers and what it costs to run.

Northern Iraq

As Iraqi government forces clear the last remnants of ISIS from Mosul and the surrounding area, 700,000 of the city’s inhabitants are still displaced and living in an archipelago of temporary camps. Our team on the ground visited two of these camps this week, providing food and water to occupants of Debaga camp in Makhmour, which is home to over 30,000 IDPs, and Hassan Sham, an emergency processing camp on the outskirts of Mosul. Here are some photos from the visit:

If you would like to support our work, please make a donation. Every donation, however small, makes a big difference to the people we are helping in Iraq and Jordan.

Making a donation

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 humanitarian appeal by clicking here.

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

Stewardship

 We are registered with Stewardship, which has set up a support fund for our foundation. You can also support us by making gifts to Stewardship for our fund. Where applicable, the value of your gifts may be increased by use of Gift Aid (worth 25% if you are a UK taxpayer). Please see the attached FORM. Once complete, please return to: Stewardship, Unit A, 1 Lamb’s Passage, London EC1Y 8AB.

Thank you for your support,

The FRRME Team

After Mosul, we must continue to help Iraqi Christians

July

Turn on the television and you will see that Mosul has been liberated. This much-vaunted victory has cost 40,000 civilian lives. Some of the liberators have committed what is politely referred to in the western media as “extrajudicial killings” – throwing suspects off rooftops and running over them with tanks. Could this be a portent of the sectarian violence to come? If so, what future is there for Iraqi Christians?

The Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qaraqosh remains abandoned months after the town was liberated from Islamic State – Christians are too afraid to return 
 

Even with Mosul and the surrounding area wrenched from Islamic State control, the persecution of minorities, particularly Christians, has not stopped. During a recent speech in southern Iraq, Sheikh Alaa Al-Mousawi, head of Iraq’s Shia Endowment, called Christians “infidels who must convert to Islam or be killed”. We’ve come to expect this kind of rhetoric from Islamic State, but not from someone connected to the Iraqi government.

Sheikh Alaa Al-Mousawi (image obtained from YouTube)
 

In the north of the country, Iraqi Kurdistan is on the cusp of independence (a vote is planned for September). The semi-autonomous region currently shelters Iraq’s displaced Christian community but will this continue to be the case once independence has been attained? If they are allowed to remain, will Christians be afforded the full panoply of rights, including the right to work and the right to health care?

Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan
 

And what about Islamic State? Following reports about the death of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, will the  group collapse? The answer is probably not. Now it has been uprooted in Iraq, some have suggested that the group will become nebulous, that is to say it will scatter into the ether and spread its violent ideology where and when it can. In a sense, it will become more like its progenitor Al Qaeda.

Islamic State fighters annexed Mosul in the summer of 2014 – much of the city is now rubble
 

The future of Iraq and its religious minorities is more uncertain than ever. Sadly, western governments do not much care for the plight of Iraqi Christians. In America they are busy trying to deport them and the UK will only take 20,000 Syrian refugees, nearly all Muslim. Consequently, Iraqi Christians continue to languish in IDP camps or live as refugees in neighbouring countries.

We have been feeding the displaced and dispossessed since the humanitarian crisis began
 

It is only Christian charity that is helping these desperate people. With your support, we are continuing to feed over 7,000 Iraqi Christians, both in the north of the country and in Baghdad, where we fully find a health clinic at St George’s, the only Anglican church in Iraq. We are also feeding 700 Iraqi Christian families in Jordan. Please support our mission.

Making a donation

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 humanitarian 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

You give refugee children in Jordan hope

July

From the blood-soaked plains of northern Iraq to the dusty backstreets of Jordan, the 700 Iraqi Christian families in our care have lived through hell. It is thanks to your support that they still have hope. Please read on for the latest update and please make a donation (giving options at the bottom of this update).

Summer camp at the Assemblies of God Church
 

Our Iraqi refugee children have been attending summer camp at the various churches we partner with in Jordan. At the Assemblies of God Church in Madaba, a city to the south of the capital Amman, the children spent the day singing, laughing, playing, and learning about Jesus and his love for them. Aptly, Madaba is twinned with Bethlehem and has become a haven for Iraqi Christians since Islamic State invaded their homeland in the summer of 2014.

Summer camp at the Greek Catholic Church
 

At the Greek Catholic Church in Fuheis, which is run by the indefatigable Father Bolis, the children showed off their creativity, drawing pictures of Jesus.

They also made toys out of paper mache. This might seem perfectly normal until you consider that Islamic State banned toys in its territory. It is only in the last few weeks that dolls and teddy bears have gone on sale again in Mosul.

It is hard to be a child when you don’t have a home but through our church partnerships in Jordan, we are doing what we can to give the refugee children in our care a sense of normality as well as a place to practice their Christian faith. Please continue supporting this work.

Making a donation

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 humanitarian 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
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Insights from Sarah Ahmed, Director of Operations
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