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.

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

An update from Jordan

May

Yesterday marked the 70th anniversary of Jordanian Independence and there were encouraging words from King Abdullah who spoke of “unity, freedom and pluralism” as well as “religious harmony”. In the wake of ISIS, this is the reason that so many Iraqi Christians have made their way to the Hashemite Kingdom.
FRRME has been working in Jordan since the beginning of 2015. Our mission there is to help the thousands of Iraqi Christians who have been driven from their homes. Since then, we have set up a food voucher programme which provides food for 500 Iraqi families. We have also set up a school in Marka (a suburb of Amman), which is attended by 175 pupils.
This week, Lord Jack McConnell, Vice President of UNICEF UK, wrote that “the impact of conflict, violence and displacement on education in Iraq has been nothing short of devastating.” He is right. That is why FRRME, with your support, continues to provide a broad-curriculum education to as many children as possible.

Currently, the Jordanian Government won’t give work permits to Iraqi refugees, which makes it very hard for them to stand on their own two feet. In tandem with this, UK Government policy forbids Iraqi refugees from entering the country, only Syrian. Given this state of affairs, many Iraqi refugee children face a grim future.

Education for our refugee children is essential. Without it, they will become a lost generation.
The FRRME Team.

Aid reaches Harsham and Debaga camps in Northern Iraq

May

Dear Friends,
This week, my team in Northern Iraq distributed more food packages, including fresh bread, cheese, yogurt and qishta (a type of clotted cream used in Middle Eastern cooking). Some of the people were crying because the bread was hot (this is a rare luxury for those living in IDP camps).
We were finally able to install a steel gate at the the entrance to Harsham Camp in Erbil. Previously the camp had been completely open, which was a major security issue for the residents. They now feel more protected.
We are continuing our work with the Yazidi girls, many of whom have suffered horrendous sexual and physical abuse at the hands of ISIS. The girls and their families are residing in a survivors camp in Dohuk. It is so sad to see the trauma they have suffered.
According to the IDMC, there are at least 3.3 million internally displaced Iraqis, many of whom are living in the camps we visit each week. The saddest sight of all is seeing the children – they have no home, no future, and many of them are suffering from malnutrition. But thanks to your support, we are helping the most vulnerable.
We cannot reach everyone but our targetted distribution of aid makes life more bearable for those at the heart of this humanitarian crisis. As ever, our priority is always the children.
If you would like to find out more about our work, please visit frrme.org.

If you would like to support our work, please visit the donation page on our website, or make a donation to The Emergency Appeal for Iraqi Refugees. Your continued support makes all the difference. Thank you.

Peace and Love,

Dr Sarah Ahmed
Director of Operations in the Middle East

Iraqi refugees in Jordan – an update

January

In the face of recent attacks against Christianity in Iraq, FRRME continues to support 500 Christian Iraqi families who have sought refuge in Jordan. With no end to the sectarian violence in sight, and with winter closing in, we have set up The Emergency Appeal for Iraqi Refugees to help those in our care (please click on the image below to donate).
Despite the challenges, FRRME’s team on the ground in Jordan is doing a fantastic job. Over the Christmas / New Year period we paid for extra heating (it is very cold in Jordan), gave out winter clothing coupons to 231 refugee families, and gave presents to all the children at our school in Marka.
Iraqi refugee children at FRRME’s school in Marka
With temperatures set to drop this week, it is important that everyone has the supplies they need. Today, our Project Officers in Amman delivered 84 food packages and will continue their rounds tomorrow.
The contents of today’s FRRME food package
A report by the UN published this week shows the devastating impact the war in Iraq is having. But with your help we are able to give the Iraqi refugees in our care hope for the future.
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Insights from Sarah Ahmed, Director of Operations
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