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.

Surviving ISIS – an update from Northern Iraq,  by Dr Sarah Ahmed

January

Dear Friends,
There have been so many reports this past year about the terrible plight of the Yazidi sex slaves. While it was heartening to see the recent nomination of Nadia Murad Basee Tahan for the Nobel Peace Prize(Nadia was captured by ISIS and used as a sex slave), many Yazidi girls are still in captivity. Their situation has been made worse by the recent news that ISIS has banned the selling of sex slaves back to their families. For those who manage to escape, many face a harsh winter living in IDP camps.
For many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Iraq, snow-covered tents will be their home this winter
With this in mind, FRRME has set up the Girls who Survived ISIS Empowerment Project. Our primary focus is to help care for girls who have escaped ISIS and are back with their families. We are providing them with much-needed medical care and winter clothes. Many of the girls we are helping are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The project is in its early stages but with your support we aim to help more girls over a longer period of time.
Distributing winter clothes to the most vulnerable in Erbil
As well as the Yazidi girls, we are also continuing our support for the families who have escaped ISIS. We recently delivered more than 400 mattresses to IDP families living in the Harsham Camp in Erbil. The camp is mixed – Christian and Muslim – and most of the people there have fled Mosul and other cities now under ISIS control.
A young Iraqi woman takes delivery of her new mattress, provided by FRRME
Despite the harsh weather, our relief work in Northern Iraq continues. The people we are helping have nothing but with your support we are making a positive difference. I am truly thankful to all of those who continue to support FRRME each month. Without your support our work would not be possible.
Dr Sarah Ahmed, FRRME's Director of Operations in Iraq, works to bring vital aid to internally displaced Iraqi children
Dr Sarah Ahmed, FRRME’s Director of Operations in Iraq
Thank you and God bless,
Dr Sarah Ahmed
Director of Operations in Iraq
The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East

Winter for the refugees in Jordan

November

Winter for the refugees in Jordan
For many Iraqi refugees living in Jordan, this will be their first winter away from home. Although they have managed to escape religious persecution and sectarian violence, life in Jordan is not easy. Most are not able to work because refugees are not allowed work permits. It is starting to get cold there, with temperatures as low as -1°C possible for the month of November. One thing all the refugees in our care have in common is that they rely on your support.
This week, our team on the ground in Marka, a suburb of Amman, has been giving out food vouchers to the 600 Iraqi refugee families in our care. The food voucher programme ensures that food reaches the most vulnerable people on a regular basis.

In addition to our food voucher programme, our team recently visited Mafraq, 80 miles north of Amman, which has the largest Syrian refugee population in Jordan. We are partnering with a charity there and have given money for food packages, heaters and blankets (below is a picture of one of our relief workers, Heather, with a refugee girl she met in Mafraq).

This week also marks FRRME’s participation in Give Back Friday. If you buy your Christmas presents this way, the shop you buy your presents from will donate us a small cash reward. It is a completely free and easy way to give to charity. Please click on the image below for more details and simple instructions.

If you would like to support the work of The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, you can do so by clicking here. Thank you.

Sawra Village: A Home For Displaced Iraqi Christians

October

It is estimated that approximately 200,000 Iraqi Christians fled their homes last summer, escaping to the relative safety of north east Iraq. However, the vast majority have no proper shelter, regular food, or access to medical care.

The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME) has helped turn a former British military base into a new home for internally displaced Iraqi Christians. Tents that were once used by the British Army at Camp Bastian in Afghanistan will now provide winter shelter for approximately 600 Iraqi men, women and children, many of whom were forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants.

The new camp, which is near Semele in the Dohuk region of Iraq, has been named ‘Sawra Village’ (Sawra means ‘Hope’ in Assyrian) and will comprise of 26 heated tents, three diesel generators, washing machines, showers, toilets, and a tent which will be used as a church.

This extraordinary project has taken many months of hard work and is the result of a partnership between FRRME, Barnabas Fund and ACERO. The project cost £487,000, of which FRRME provided £150,000. However, while these people are now in relative safety and have accommodation, a harsh winter is approaching and the humanitarian needs are enormous.

 

Thank you.

Jordan – An Update from FRRME’s team on the ground

October

Greetings from Jordan!

With thankful hearts, we are continuing to see the school here in Jordan move forward.  New text books have been purchased for the students – the best textbooks for science, maths, English and Arabic. Extra-curricular activities, including French language classes and physical education, are also in development.

In stepping up to the level of the surrounding, established schools, FRRME’s ‘Now or Never’ school has also provided its students with brand new school uniforms.

Children in school uniforms

With your support, refugee Iraqi women in our care have made school uniforms for all 155 of our precious young ones.  These uniforms not only create a more formal atmosphere, they provide the children with adequate clothing as the harsh winter months approach.

We have also been able to purchase a new laptop, which will be used to help administrate the school and also our health clinic here in Jordan. Thank you for your support and help.  It is wonderful to see the joy on the children’s faces and the skip in their step.  Each student has also learned to recite their first prayer in English!  Amen!

Amar

FRRME supports the family of a man here in Jordan called Amar who has Multiple Sclerosis. At the age of 37 Amar’s MS has progressed to the point of paralysis and he is unable to eat or speak.  Just last week we shared communion with Amar and his family (Amar partook in communion via his feeding tube through his nose).  Amar is cared for twenty four hours a day by three of his sisters and his mother.  He has been bed ridden for two years.

Amar

Amar’s family look after him with great care – the adjustment of the pillows, the mixing of medications, the checking of medication levels, the constant monitoring of the IV.  Every time we come to Amar’s home we see Christ and his love for Amar through the love of his three sisters and his mother

Thank you,

The FRRME Team

 

Iraq – The Camps of Kurdistan – An Update from FRRME’s Projects Director in Iraq, Dr Sarah Ahmed

October

Dear Friends,

FRRME’s relief work in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq is vital. Iraqi Kurdistan borders the so-called Islamic State and many of the people we are helping there have been forced to flee. Many arrive in Kurdistan with little more than the clothes on their backs. Some have walked through the desert to find safety. When they arrive, our team on the ground is there to help them, providing much-needed food and medicine. This exodus is particularly traumatic for the children.

Children with bag of grain

The camps for IDPs (Internally displaced People) in Kurdistan are full. Conditions are getting worse because of the overcrowding. Once people arrive in the camps, there is no proper shelter for them, just clay huts without doors, or canvas tents. With winter approaching and very low temperatures likely, the crisis is set to get much worse. There have even been reports of children running around naked in the camps of Sulaymaniyah in east Kurdistan because they have no clothes.

There’s often a misconception, particularly in the West, that all IDPs and refugees are poor, illiterate and looking for hand-outs. However, many of the people I’ve encountered are highly-educated professionals. One day, they are working hard and running successful businesses, with their children doing well in school. The next, they find themselves in a vast refugee camp hundreds of miles away, packed into tents and struggling to find food for their children to eat.

FRRME sacks

Despite the worsening situation in the camps of Kurdistan, and thanks to your generous donations, FRRME continues to make a difference every day. We are providing vital relief – food, medicine and shelter – to those who need it most. The most important thing we are giving is hope. Without hope, the people in our care would fall into despair. If you would like to help us help them, you can give to The Emergency Appeal for Iraqi Refugees or visit the donate page on this website. Thank you.

Dr Sarah Ahmed

Projects Director in Iraq

The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME)

Jordan – An Interview with Kareem, An Iraqi Refugee – by FRRME Relief Worker, Heather Joy Quinones

September

Dear Friends,

Every week here in Amman we visit the community of Iraqi refugees we are helping by providing them with food, medicine and shelter. The eldest man in this community is Kareem. He is very thin and walks with a cane. His eyes are gentle and his demeanor is calm and rhythmic. I would describe him as observant, caring, and the best of listeners.

A younger man works as a translator for us but there are times when he doesn’t understand a word we say. It is then that he looks to Kareem, who translates what we have said into Arabic to help the translator. Even though Kareem does not speak fluent English, he understands what we are saying.

Kareem with his three daughters

Kareem with his three daughters

We sat down with Kareem, who is always dressed in slacks and a button-up shirt that has the feel of the 1920s. Kareem has been married to Siham for 16 years and has three daughters. He is, to our surprise, only 57 years old. Kareem had lived in Baghdad his whole life until sectarian violence there caused him to leave in 2006 and relocate his family to Mosul in the north of the country. Mosul was annexed by ISIS in June last year and Kareem and his family had to flee for a second time.

When we asked Kareem what the hardest part about being a refugee is, he replied: “Being strangers in a foreign land.”  So often, Westerners think that Arab countries are facsimiles of each other and that the differences are marginal. But for Kareem, the difference between Iraq and Jordan is huge.

Providing for his family is extremely difficult for Kareem. He is unable to provide for his three young daughters and this is a great source of anxiety. Previously, he had worked with a photocopying company in Iraq. However, in Jordan it is against the law for him to work. Jordan will not give work permits to refugees – this is to discourage people like Kareem from going to Jordan, even when they have nowhere else to go. Kareem also struggles with a hip replacement, the result of a bad automobile accident, which makes caring for his family even more challenging.

Kareem fled the historic city of Mosul, now controlled by Islamic State

Kareem fled the historic city of Mosul, now controlled by Islamic State

Kareem and his family fled Mosul on Wednesday 6th August 2014. On that day, Kareem received a phone call from a friend. It was late at night and his friend told him he had to flee for his life; that his whole family had to flee immediately. He walked outside. There was no electricity anywhere, not even the sound of emergency generators. It was dark and everyone was gone. Kareem and his family left their home at 11.00pm – they took nothing with them, they simply walked out into the desert in the clothes they were standing in.

After walking for 25 miles in the dark, at around 4:00am Kareem and his family were picked up by a complete stranger who offered to drive them to the relative safety of Dohuk, where Kareem’s mother-in-law lived. Two months later, the family made their way to Amman in Jordan and Kareem has not seen his homeland since. Interviewing Kareem reveals a sadness many Iraqi refugees feel:

“What do you hope for? What do you want?” I asked Kareem. He answered: “I want a place where I can settle down that is safe and to guarantee the future of my children. For myself, I don’t want anything, only for my family.”

“Would you ever go back to Iraq?” I asked. Kareem said: “If there was peace, I would.”

Kareem is the first Iraqi refugee that I have heard say he would choose to go back to Iraq if the fighting there ended. I am sure there are many like him. My conversation with Kareem reminded me of this quote by Mother Teresa:

At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me.  I was homeless and you took me in.’”

Please donate to The Emergency Appeal for Iraqi Refugees to help people like Kareem

Please donate to The Emergency Appeal for Iraqi Refugees to help people like Kareem

If you would like to help Kareem and his family, or other Iraqi refugee families who have fled to Jordan, you can do so by visiting our new Just Giving page: The Emergency Appeal for Iraqi Refugees.

Heather Joy Quinones

Relief Worker

The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME)

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Insights from Sarah Ahmed, Director of Operations
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