Easter at St George’s Church in Baghdad

April

At St George’s Church in Baghdad, where our work began and where we are fully funding a health clinic, the congregation celebrated Easter amid worsening sectarian violence. On Good Friday a bomb went off in the city’s Al-Maalef district killing two people and injuring four. Despite this, hundreds of people came to the church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Easter service was led by the Rt Rev Michael Lewis, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf, who washed the feet of the parishioners. To watch a video of the Easter Sunday service click here.

Sadly, in other parts of Iraq Christianity has been driven out. A report in The New York Times this week showed footage of Qaraqosh in the north of the country. The journalist described it as a “ghost town”. Our team in Iraq visited Qaraqosh in January and found the same thing. Despite Daesh being beaten, Christians are still too afraid to go back to their homes.

We are continuing to feed 7,000 Christians in Iraq, many of whom have fled Mosul and the Nineveh Plain. Others remain in Baghdad and receive food packages we provide through St George’s Church. If you would like to support this work or any of our other projects, please see the giving options at the bottom of this newsletter.

Special thanks to a special supporter
 

London: Joseph Moore ran from the Imperial War Museum to the Iraqi Embassy to highlight the needs of the persecuted church in the Middle East. He also raised £434 / $556 for our cause. Thank you Joseph, we really appreciate your effort. We encourage others to participate in this sort of fundraising as it really helps spread the word about our work.

Making a donation to support our work

If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking here.

American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can make a donation to our emergency appeal by clicking here.

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

Thank you for your support,

The FRRME Team

Support the persecuted church this Easter

April

For the past 15 years, with your help, we have been transforming lives. We are proud of what we have achieved so far, despite our small size. But times are changing. A dark shadow has cast itself over Iraq. The war there has made 3 million people homeless and decimated the ancient Christian community in the north of the country. In 2003, there were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. Today, it is estimated that there are less than 200,000.

The desecrated baptismal font at the Church of the Immaculate Conception 
in the northern Iraqi town of Qaraqosh

The churches of Iraq, though battered by war, remain faithful to Jesus Christ and committed to their congregations. In the bombed-out cities you will find faith undeterred by persecution. However, the people we are helping are exhausted by their plight. Sadly, they are not supported by the international community (which offers them little assistance) but by the kindness of fellow Christians in the West whose generosity has helped keep them alive.

Many displaced children now find themselves living in makeshift tents on the arid plains of Iraqi Kurdistan, or in overcrowded church compounds 

Through our partnerships with the Syrian Orthodox and Armenian churches, as well as our work with St George’s Church in Baghdad, we are feeding  7,048 Iraqi Christians. That is the equivalent of 1,400 families. Afnan, who was originally from Baghdad and who now lives in Amman with our support, describes the shocking sectarianism which forced her and her family to flee their home:

Afnan (right) with her sister Mariam (left) and mother, Vian

Afnan: “After the war [in 2003] anti-Christian sentiment was much worse and more open. My closest friend came to me once and said she must kill me and cut off my head. She said I was an infidel and should become a Muslim and start wearing the hijab. She said we [her family] should all become Muslims. She would always say the Bible was corrupted.”

Sadly, war in Iraq has driven a wedge between friends but as we celebrate Easter we pray that hope, peace and reconciliation returns to that broken land. The people we are helping, people like Afnan and her family, need your support more than ever. To make a donation this Easter, 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 our emergency appeal by clicking here.

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

May this blessed celebration of Easter bring you faith, hope, love and joy.

The FRRME Team

More than 300,000 people displaced from Mosul

April

The UN said this week that more than 300,000 people have fled the besieged city of Mosul. Islamic State militants are reportedly holding the northwestern part of the city, using civilians as human shields. Those who manage to escape show signs of their capture – this week, our team on the ground saw young men shaving their beards off (they were forced to grow beards by Islamic State).

While the eastern half of the city has been liberated, on the ground conditions are terrible. Recent footage shows how desperate the people are for food (click here to watch). People think that because Islamic State is being defeated in Mosul that the situation for its residents is improving. It is not. There are more displaced people than ever and the needs are growing every day.

Dr Sarah Ahmed, our Director of Operations in Middle East, is leading our relief efforts in the region but sadly Iraqi Christians continue to be ignored by the international community. It is only thanks to the charity of Christians in the West that these people are being fed. With your support, the total number of Iraqi Christians we are now feeding is 7,048 (approximately 1,400 families).

This week, as part of her trip to the Middle East, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced a new military training partnership with Jordan, where we are helping a community of Iraqi Christian refugees. Sadly, there was no talk, at least not publicly, of helping those Christians who have been languishing in the country for years waiting for asylum to the West. Perhaps the subject will come up when the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt Revd Justin Welby, visits the country in May.

Many of the people we are helping are in a state of limbo. They include doctors, school teachers, civil servants, children; all of whom are forced to live in tents on dusty plains miles from home. Many arrive with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Your precious support through donations helps us to feed and clothe these people. See below for a breakdown of how your donations 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

Exodus or Execution: The Hell of Mosul

March

“ISIS Burns 3 Women Alive for Refusing to Slaughter Innocent Civilians” read  a news story in the Christian Post last Saturday. The message was clear: civilians trapped in the western half of Mosul are being used as pawns in an obscene fight to the death, killed in horrendous ways, or forced to kill others.

While this is happening, we are continuing to feed thousands of people who have fled the city and surrounding area, many of them children. Below are some photos of the children you have helped to feed (taken this week). On their behalf, thank you.

Is the West doing enough to help persecuted Christians in Iraq?
 

We participate in a caucus of Christian charities and NGOs which regularly meets to discuss the plight of the persecuted church in Iraq. This week, we met with Stephen Rasche, aid coordinator in the archdiocese of Erbil, who updated us on the situation facing Christians in Iraq. The news was stark:

  • The number of Christians in Iraq has fallen from 1.5 million in 2003 to around 200,000 today.
  • Of the $900 million in relief provided by the US through the UN, none has found its way to the Christians because the UN judges that they are receiving help from elsewhere.
  • The cost of rebuilding Christian villages destroyed by ISIS in northern Iraq could exceed £160 million.

FRRME trustee, Christopher Segar, who attended the meeting, said: “If there were stronger voices from Christian leaders [in the West] it would make our work much easier.” This is indeed the case. To read an article about the meeting please click here.

Support your persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ

Your donations mean everything to us. They help buy essential items such as clothes, food and water. Regular giving enables us to plan ahead and keep the long queues of people fed. Please contact office@frrme.org for info about how to set up a standing order. Below 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

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
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Insights from Sarah Ahmed, Director of Operations
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