MEPs back Iraqi Christians’ right to return home

June

At FRRME, we remember 29th June 2014 very clearly. This was the day the IS Caliphate was declared in the Great Mosque in Mosul. Three years of suffering have followed – the persecution of religious minorities, including the indigenous Christian population of Iraq, the destruction of civil society, and the condemnation of IS genocide by the UK Parliament, US Government, and European Parliament. Thankfully, charities have risen magnificently to the challenge of providing support to the persecuted, particularly the Christians of Iraq whose number has dwindled significantly.

The desecrated baptismal font at the Church of the Immaculate Conception 
in the Christian town of Qaraqosh near Mosul

Last week, along with other NGOs and 60 representatives from the Iraqi Christian community, MEPs from the EPP group in the European Parliament invited us to attend a conference titled: ‘A Future for Christians in Iraq’. The focal point was the establishment of a safe zone in the Nineveh Plain where Iraqi Christians can live free from persecution. The Kurdish Regional Government, a key player in reconstruction talks, has been hospitable and supportive, with a large displaced Christian population already residing in its territory, and with additional IDPs from Baghdad also welcomed. With IS on the verge of defeat in Mosul, 40% of Iraqi Christians now wish to return home (up from 3% in 2016) but there are fears for their security. After much discussion, an agreement was signed at the conference which fully supports Iraqi Christians’ right to return home. This is a major political step forward.

Iraqi Christian leaders and MEPs hold hands in solidarity at the European Parliament

While there is new political support for Iraq’s beleaguered Christian community, their return to the Nineveh Plain will take time to implement as homes and businesses have been destroyed. In the meantime, with your support, we will continue to provide for the Iraqi refugees in our care.

Bible study class for the children of the Nazarene Church in Amman
 

In June, we contributed £2,710 / $3,500 to the Nazarene Church in Amman, which is one of four church partners we are working with in Jordan. This money helped feed 263 refugee families, 90% of which are Christian. Our support also pays for activities for the refugees, including Bible study and play group for the children. As of this week, our Project Officer in Jordan, Helena Scott, is teaching English to the children. As you can see below, they enjoyed their first lesson!

Children at Helena Scott’s English class
 

To read more about the conference at the European Parliament please click here. If you would like to help us in our mission, 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 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

The Right to Return: “A Future for Christians in Iraq” Conference Brief

‘A FUTURE FOR CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ’ CONFERENCE, 28-30 June, 2017
European Parliament, Brussels – a brief update on this significant and necessary meeting of Iraq’s Christian church leaders, politicians and NGOs:

As our FRRME supporters know, the Iraqi Christian population has decreased from 1.5 million in 2003 to around 300,000 today. Furthermore, 3 years of IS violence has meant Christians in Iraq, along with minorities such as Yezidis and Shabaks have not suffered mere persecution. The European Parliament, along with The White House, the US State Department, the U.K. House of Commons and several others have designated the atrocities committed by IS as no less than genocide.

SIGNING OF BRUSSELS PAPER on Friday 30th June 2017:

60 representatives from Iraqi Christian parties, leading Iraqi church bishops and ministers, KRG, Yezidis, Turkmen, Ka’kai, as well as NGOs, including FRRME who are a sponsoring partner, along with representatives from the EPP Group, EU (the largest political group in the European Parliament) and US State Dept witnessed the presentations from candidates, followed by a signing of a joint position paper on reconstruction, the right to return, reconciliation, security and the possibility of a Governate (not autonomy, self-rule or external force). Both the Ambassador of Iraq to the EU Dr Jawad Al-Hindawy representing Iraqi President Fuad Masum and Fawzi Harrison, Personal Representative of HE President Barzani gave presentations in support of the unique and vital part that Iraqi Christians contribute to a united Iraq, whether residing in the Kurdistan region, Baghdad or in the Nineveh Plain.

Lars Adaktusson MEP restated that the demands of Iraqi Christians of the right to live in their own homes freely, safely with the opportunity to follow their Christian faith as equal citizens in Iraqi society were just, legal and fair.

This all happened at a key time in Iraqi history. As Dr Jawad Al-Hindawy stated the 29 June 2017 marked the end of the IS caliphate, the ‘establishment of demise’ as the siege of Mosul came to an end. This is exactly 3 years to the day that the caliphate was declared in the Great Mosque in Mosul.

More analysis of the impact of this agreement will follow from our FRRME team. Click HERE copy of the proposal agreement and signatories. Further information at www.nineveh.eu

Video of signing of Brussels paper by:
Beth Nahrain Democratic Party, Beth Nahrain Patriotic Union, Chaldean Democracy Forum, Chaldean National Congress, Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council, Chaldon Ashor and Syriac Assembly Movement witnessed by Lars Adaktusson MEP, EPP Group and Johannes de Jong, Sallux.

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 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 Future for Christians in Iraq’ conference at the European Parliament, 28 – 30 June 2017

 

‘A FUTURE FOR CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ’ conference at the European Parliament, 28-30 June 2017
European Parliament, Brussels – a brief update on this significant and necessary meeting of Iraq’s Christian church leaders, politicians and NGOs:

As our FRRME supporters know, the Iraqi Christian population has decreased from 1.5 million in 2003 to around 300,000 today. Furthermore, 3 years of IS violence has meant Christians in Iraq, along with minorities such as Yezidis and Shabaks have not suffered mere persecution. The European Parliament, along with The White House, the US State Department, the U.K. House of Commons and several others have designated the atrocities committed by IS as no less than genocide.

SIGNING OF BRUSSELS PAPER on Friday 30th June 2017:

60 representatives from Iraqi Christian parties, leading Iraqi church bishops and ministers, KRG, Yezidis, Turkmen, Ka’kai, as well as NGOs, including FRRME who are a sponsoring partner, along with representatives from EU and US State Dept witnessed the presentation and signing of a joint position paper on reconstruction, the right to return, reconciliation, security and the possibility of a Governate (not autonomy, self-rule or external force). Both the Ambassador of Iraq to the EU Dr Jawad Al-Hindawy representing Iraqi President Fuad Masum and Fawzi Harrison, Personal Representative of HE President Barzani gave presentations in support of the unique and vital part that Iraqi Christians contribute to a united Iraq.

Lars Adaktusson MEP of the EPP Group at the EU restated that the demands of Iraqi Christians of the right to live in their own homes freely, safely with the opportunity to follow their Christian faith as equal citizens in Iraqi society were just, legal and fair.

This all happened at a key time in Iraqi history. As Dr Jawad Al-Hindawy stated the 29 June 2017 marked the end of the IS caliphate, the ‘establishment of demise’ as the siege of Mosul came to an end. This is exactly 3 years to the day that the caliphate was declared in the Great Mosque in Mosul.

More analysis of the impact of this agreement will follow from our FRRME team. Details of the proposal and agreement at www.nineveh.eu

Video of signing by:
Beth Nahrain Democratic Party, Beth Nahrain Patriotic Union, Chaldean Democracy Forum, Chaldean National Congress, Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council, Chaldon Ashor and Syriac Assembly Movement witnessed by Lars Adaktusson and Johannes de Jong, Sallux.

Posted by Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East on Friday, 30 June 2017

We bring football to an Iraqi IDP camp

June

Saddam Hussein’s eldest son, Uday, used to be the chairman of the Iraqi Football Association. In 1994, he reportedly made the Iraqi national football team kick a concrete ball for failing to qualify for the World Cup. Football (soccer to our American supporters) is the most popular sport in Iraq but for decades it was in the hands of the regime. Under ISIS, football was banned on pain of death.

This week, we restored the beautiful game to its rightful owners – the young men and women of Iraq. In Harsham Camp north of Erbil, we gave out new kit and footballs and helped arrange a practice session and tournament.

Despite the searing heat, the day of footballing fun drew a lot of curious spectators, including this young Barcelona fan.

And this little girl (perhaps she will be part of the first Iraqi women’s football team to make it to the World Cup).

With the war in Iraq raging on, many children have been denied the opportunity to participate in any kind of sporting activity due to the fact that they are living in displacement camps which have no facilities. While much of our effort goes into providing food and education, we are very happy to give these children a chance to enjoy football again.

If you would like to support projects like this, or any of our relief operations, 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 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

Iraqi Christians face new death sentence

June

Iraqi Christians living in the US are being rounded up by immigration officials and deported to Iraq in what human rights lawyers are calling a “death sentence.” More than 200 Iraqis, many of whom are members of the Chaldean Catholic Church, are facing deportation for committing petty crimes and misdemeanors. However, many facing deportation, described as “criminal aliens” by officials, have argued that the charges were handed down decades ago and that they pose no risk at all to the community.

To get a sense of what these people are facing if they are forcibly returned to Iraq, please read the below interview with Imad, one of the Iraqi Christian refugees we are helping in Jordan.

FRRME: “Where in Iraq are you from and why did you leave?”

Imad: “I am originally from Mosul. When we were there during the invasion in 2003 people were being killed according to their identity. If you were Christian they would kill you. I saw my friends in a car near my house get killed. My wife saw this too and said we must leave Mosul and go to another region. That is when we went to Nineveh. We lived a normal life there but when ISIS came in 2014 and the fighting started we went to Erbil in Kurdistan.”

FRRME: “What was life like in Nineveh before ISIS came?”

Imad: “It was good. We had a house, a car, and I ran my own car repair business. But we were afraid. It was dangerous for us because we are Christian. If, for instance, I repaired someone’s car and the owner of the car did not want to pay the bill, I couldn’t say anything as a Christian. Even though it was dangerous it was still a good life for us in Nineveh.”

FRRME: “What was life like before Nineveh?”

Imad: “It was tough. In 1997, a person broke into my house. He was holding a gun and wearing black clothes. He told us not to say anything. He told us to give him all the money we had. I told him I had 400 Iraqi dinars, the gold of my wife, and a car. Then I distracted the man for a moment and struck him, trying to incapacitate him. The man shot me in the chest. My uncle was there as well and was shot in the leg. My wife and mother and nephew hid and were safe. The man ran away, and my nephew took us to the hospital.”

FRRME: “What is life like in Jordan now with your family?”

Imad: “Life here is better than in Iraq. We live in safety, and we thank God and FRRME for everything. We thank the King of Jordan too for allowing us to come here.”

FRRME: “How have things changed for you in Jordan?”

Imad: “In Iraq, I went to church from time to time, maybe twice per year. Here in Jordan we have gotten to know Jesus more and more. When I was in Iraq, I didn’t read the Bible. Here in Jordan I read the Bible every day.”

FRRME: “Did the hardship you experienced make you trust God more?”

Imad: “Everything I went through brought me closer to Jesus.”

FRRME: “What is your hope for leaving Jordan? Where do you want to go? What do you want to do next?”

Imad: “I would like to go to Australia. Every day I pray to God that I will be able to go to Australia and that my wife and daughter will be able to go there as well. I pray that my daughter can go to school and that we can have a home of our own there, that we can have a normal and safe life again.”

FRRME: “Have you put in an application to go to Australia?”

Imad: “Yes, I put in an application with the Australian Embassy last year. We want to go to Australia because the Christians have more rights and help in Australia.”

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

Shelter and English Classes in Jordan

June

As Jordan continues to host the 2nd largest number of refugees relative to the size of its population – 9% of its inhabitants are now refugees (UNHCR*) – FRRME is providing hope to Iraqi Christians through relief and education classes with your help. 

In the past month 1,000 food packages were distributed to Iraqi Christian refugee families in Amman and Madaba, and new evening classes teaching English are now being provided by our local church partners.

  • As well as the English language, classes in cooking, sewing, woodworking and computer skills have now been set up to equip and train Christian Iraqi refugees.
  • Children’s bible study classes for kindergarten, elementary school and teens in Fuheis.
  • Transportation is provided for refugees to attend classes.
  • 100% of our aid relief to refugees in Jordan is to Iraqi Christians
  • As refugees they are not permitted to obtain paid employment, despite many having previously owned businesses in Iraq.

 Michael and Theresa are an elderly Christian couple originally from Mosul.

FRRME is giving rent for us and help with food packages and food coupons.

Michael and Theresa ran a restaurant in Mosul but Sunni extremists bombed it in 2008. They went to Qaraqosh but fled when Islamic State came in 2014. They managed to get to Jordan have lost everything, including their life savings and pension (the bank in Iraq will not give them their money because they are Christian). Thanks to you, we are supporting them.

FRRME want to continue to provide shelter, food, education, fun and hope, with your help. How to make a DONATION to support FRRME:

  • If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking HERE. You can also set up a standing order and Gift Aid your giving. Regular giving mean we can keep planning ahead, and ensure that the queues for food, medical relief and education needs flow effectively. Together we are making a difference.
  • For our American supporters, make your donation HERE to qualify for 501(c)(3) tax-deductible status.
  • You can also make a donation to our emergency appeal by clicking HERE.

We would also ask that you prayerfully consider increasing your standing order this month, if one is already in place. Contact our office@frrme.org.

Thank you for your support,

From the FRRME Team & the Nazarene Church Sunday School.

* UNHCR Jordan Global Focus

Fleeing to safe havens

June

As news reached our office of the continued barbarity inflicted upon Iraqi civilians trying to flee the city of MOSUL, your much needed relief support keeps the food queues flowing and hope defiantly alive.

In Northern Iraq, this week FRRME have continued to provide food, water, shelter, medical support and education at Harsham and Debaga camps, made possible with your donations.
  • This past month 1,800 families were helped directly through FRRME’s relief distribution. This is 10,860 individuals fed.
  • Our partners in Northern Iraq, including the Syrian Orthodox Church, Armenian Church and the Al-Bishara Christian charity were able to help feed 4,000 families – that is nearly 25,000 people.
  • FRRME contributed 845 much needed food packs to this distribution (see above infographic).
  • Educational projects continue to flourish at the Um Al Noor Christian Kindergarten and the Harsham Camp IDP School.
  • 85% of families helped were Christian IDPs, still remaining in Iraq.
  • At FRRME we want them to be able to remain, living in safety and hope.
  • 15% of families helped Yazidis, Shabak and Muslims – all suffering and displaced from their homes.

Your provision, both financial and through prayer, are making a difference; but we want to do more than just keep that hope alive. At FRRME we want it to grow, enabled by the effective and dedicated team in the Middle East, led by our Director of Operations ME, Dr Sarah. Please DONATE today.

HOW TO MAKE A DONATION TO SUPPORT FRRME:

  • If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking HERE. You can also set up a standing order and Gift Aid your giving. Regular giving mean we can keep planning ahead, and ensure that the queues for food, medical relief and education needs flow effectively. Together we are making a difference.
  • For our American supporters, make your donation HERE to qualify for 501(c)(3) tax-deductible status.
  • You can also make a donation to our emergency appeal by clicking HERE.

We would also ask that you prayerfully consider increasing your standing order this month, if one is already in place. Contact our office@frrme.org.

Thank you for your support,

The FRRME Team

Children displaced in their own land

At the Harsham Primary School this week, the children were very excited to see our Director of Operations, Dr Sarah Ahmed, and her dedicated relief team. The team came bearing gifts!

In Northern Iraq, FRRME have continued to support our education projects at Harsham Primary School, the Kirkuk Autism Centre and the Um Al Noor Christian Kindergarten in Erbil. This month:

  • FRRME provided 782 books for Harsham Primary School.
  • The children did not have the right materials to complete their current term.
  • Your financial support assisted in providing over eight different teaching resources for the primary school.

Lowi happy to be getting new books!

Neither the Central Government Ministry of Education or the KRG Ministry of Education were able to provide the books in the IDP schools, simply because of the vast demand on their resources at this time of conflict.

FRRME where asked to contribute because of our well-known reputation in Iraq for supporting education for IDPs.

The reward was extremely happy children, excited to receive the books and the chance to learn and complete their school year.

We are so grateful for your support. Without it, the IDP children we are helping, like Lowi, would struggle. And most of all we consider every gift however large or small, as an act of worship and giving to God.

We would like to ask that you prayerfully consider increasing your standing order this month if you already regularly donate to FRRME. Regular giving mean we can keep planning ahead, and ensure that the queues for food, medical relief and education needs flow effectively. Together we are making a difference.

Thank you for your support,  

The FRRME Team

 

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.  You can also set up a standing order here, make a monthly donation and partner with us.

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:

Iraqi Christian refugees you are helping: Ammar

Ammar’s story

This is Ammar, his wife Athraa and their two children, Ethan and Athena. They are an Iraqi Christian family living in Jordan who you are helping. Below is an interview we did with the family about why they left Iraq, what it’s like being a refugee in Jordan, and their hopes for the future:

 

FRRME: “What was your life like before you came to Jordan?”

Ammar: “We were living in a Christian town called Qaraqosh about 20 miles from Mosul. About 60,000 people used to live in Qaraqosh but now it is a ghost town. I was an art teacher. I also ran a mobile phone shop. I got married there and my two children were born there.”

FRRME: “Why did you leave Iraq?”

Ammar: “ISIS attacked Qaraqosh. There were three choices for us: convert to Islam, pay a tax, or leave. We decided to leave. We could not take anything with us, we left in our clothes and went to Erbil in Kurdistan. We stayed in Erbil for one month until we got visas for Jordan. When we got to Jordan, we lived in Marka for seven months in a church. It was a large hall with families separated by sheets. There was no privacy. It was 2 by 5 meters for each family. It was a bad life there. My children were sick and ended up in hospital. But FRRME paid for us to live in an apartment in Madaba. They continue to pay our rent.”

FRRME: “The choice that ISIS gave you, did they tell you that face-to-face?”

Ammar: “We didn’t hear this from them directly, we heard this from people who were living in Mosul. ISIS went to Mosul first and they told the Christians there this message. Those Christians then came to Qaraqosh and we all left together.”

FRRME: “It was reported that the tax didn’t always work in the way it was presented, that it was difficult to stay even if you did pay the tax. Is that correct?”

Ammar: “We heard that some of the Christian people decided to stay and pay the tax but when they went to the mosque to see how they will pay, the ISIS soldiers there refused and said this choice was no longer available. They said the Christians needed to convert to Islam or leave. They gave the Christians one week to leave Mosul, saying anyone who stayed in Mosul would be killed.”

FRRME: “Since you’ve been in Jordan, you’ve been helping us as a translator. Have you been able to do anything else to keep yourself occupied and to keep busy?”

Ammar: “I tried to work here in Madaba but I had a problem with my back and couldn’t work anymore. I thank God that FRRME paid for my surgery. It was very expensive. Of course I wouldn’t have been able to pay for this surgery myself. We have nothing. I keep myself busy by going to church and studying the Bible. I am now going to Theology seminary in Amman.”

FRRME: “Do you have any idea of how long it might be before you might be able to get asylum in a western country and emigrate?”

Ammar: “No one knows about this. Every month there are new rules. It used to take six months to leave from Jordan to Canada. Now it is at least ten months just to do the first asylum interview. After that you have to wait for another six to eight months. I applied to the Canadian embassy and I have already been here for two years. That means I will stay here over three years. I don’t know if I will survive being here for this long. And the UN is closed, especially for Iraqis and especially for Christians. Many times I went to the UN to renew my papers. When I go there, I saw the people that are going to leave. All of them were Muslim.”

FRRME: “If you make it to Canada, what would you do?”

Ammar: “I would hope to be a pastor.”

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

First impressions by Helena Scott,  FRRME’s new Project Officer in Amman

May

After just two weeks in Amman, I’m already starting to feel at home here. This experience stands in stark contrast to the last city I lived in, Washington, D.C., which I came to love but where it took time to feel fully settled in. That memory fades into the distance now as I’m greeted with the warm hospitality ingrained and embedded deep into Arab culture. As a foreigner, I’ve been welcomed into the homes and places of worship of strangers immediately.

I was introduced to Father Emmanuel, a Syrian Orthodox Christian pastor, who at our first meeting gave me a welcome gift along with qahwah (coffee) and sweets. He showed me pictures of a toddler who was maimed and burned by “DAESH” (as he refers to ISIS) and goes into details about how the Church serves as a refuge for so many people in need – one of countless stories like this I’ve encountered since moving here.

It’s a humbling, shocking, and eye-opening experience to observe so many children, women, and men transplanted from their homes and lives, as they knew them. These families are uprooted yet positive, filled with hope and yearning for a better future, and a chance to rebuild the lives that were shattered by persecution and war.  For many, their hope is a result of their faith and convictions. FRRME/FRRME America’s involvement contributes to sustaining that hope, and I’m happy to witness this.

These families remind me that safety, security, and freedom of beliefs are luxuries that so many aren’t afforded. To many religious minorities throughout the Middle East, practicing religion is an active choice, one that can come with dire consequences, yet many still make the choice to express their faith and do not give up on their beliefs despite the risks and hardships they often experience as a result.

I recently met with one of several families who were directly threatened by ISIS. They fled Iraq in an attempt to stop the kidnapping of their 13-year-old daughter because of their Christianity. This meant leaving behind their livelihoods and starting afresh in an unknown place where they don’t have the right to make a living or get an education. Their daughter, now 16, once had dreams of becoming a doctor – but has yet to attend high school. To see this family’s ability to adapt and face the abrupt upheaval in their circumstances is truly inspiring.

Jordan – whose fabric and history is at once rich, diverse, and complex – needs the means and support to absorb the vast multitude of refugees being transplanted here. While D.C. is a diverse international hub, Amman and its surrounding towns serve as a melting pot of displaced people from around the Middle East. Irrespective of faith or nationality, the need for relief, assistance and hope is clear.

It is against this backdrop that FRRME/FRRME America has a direct way to help facilitate lasting impact and improve living circumstances for refugees undergoing immense hardship, and I look forward to helping continue these efforts.

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
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 7
Insights from Sarah Ahmed, Director of Operations
Get our news, prayer updates and blog posts straight to your inbox Make a 
<a href=Get our news, prayer updates and blog posts straight to your inbox Signup to receive our e-newsletter

Archives