Food Relief

Background

Food relief is central to our work in northern Iraq. Following the annexation of towns and cities by Islamic State, approximately 3.06 million people were displaced from their homes, with 1.2 million living in temporary settlements. Many of them, including the Christian population, are now living in the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan in the north east of the country, either in displacement camps or, in the case of the Christians, in church compounds in the city of Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

While camps and compounds are relatively safe, conditions are often cramped and food has to be shipped in on a weekly and monthly basis otherwise the people there will starve. We have been feeding thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) since the crisis began and with your support will continue to do so.

IDP camps in Northern Iraq

Since the beginning of 2015 we have delivered food and water to a total of 17 IDP camps in northern Iraq. Currently, we operate in four camps – Harsham, Baharka, Debaga, and Ankawa, all located in Iraqi Kurdistan. We have also delivered food to emergency camps on the outskirts of the besieged city of Mosul, including Khazir.

Harsham – This camp is located to the north of Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, and was opened in September 2014, just weeks after the Islamic State incursion into northern Iraq. It is a multi-agency camp which hosts approximately 1,500 internally displaced Iraqis families. In addition to food, we have provided the camp’s only girls school with stationary and textbooks. To read more about the school click here.

Baharka – This camp is also located to the north of Erbil. The Kurdish authorities converted all kinds of buildings, including a cement factory, into temporary accommodation and shelter for the thousands of people who arrived there after the capture of Mosul by Islamic State. The camp expanded considerably in 2016 and there are now around 4,000 people living there, mostly in tents. As well as food, we provide hygiene kits. We are paying a group of IDPs in the camp to help us distribute the food.

Debaga – This camp is south west of Mosul near a town called Makhmour. It shelters approximately 30,000 people and has had to be extended twice since it was first built to accommodate the thousands of people who have fled the fighting in Mosul. We set up a kitchen in the camp in 2016 and continue to provide hot food to around 7,000 IDPs.

Ankawa – This camp is specifically for Christian IDPs and is located in a predominately Assyrian suburb north of Erbil. The camp shelters around 5,500 people, including 2,000 children. As well as food, we have provided clothes for the children attending the school there.

Helping Iraqi Christians

In 2003 Iraqi Christians numbered approximately 1.5 million. Today, there are thought to be less than 200,000. Those who remain are residing in church compounds in Erbil and IDP camps such as Ankawa and are dependent almost entirely on the good will of fellow Christians to survive. With your support, and through our partnerships with the Syrian Orthodox and Armenian churches, we are feeding 25,000 displaced Christians every month. Here is a breakdown:

  • 3,500 Syrian Orthodox families are being served through the Syrian Orthodox Church in Erbil.
  • 207 Armenian Christian families are being served through the Armenian Church.
  • 200 Christian families are being served through other local partners on the ground.
  • An additional 1,000 families (a mixture of Christians, Shabaks, Yazidis, and Muslims) are being served through our food packages project.

Food packages 

The food packages we distribute in IDP camps and to families living in church compounds cost £16 and comprise of oil, tea, tomato paste, white rice, brown rice, lentils, sugar, milk, tea, salt, and white beans. A typical food package is enough to feed a family of six people for one month.

Support our work

If you would like to support this work, please make a donation by clicking here.

Kindergarten

The Um al Noor Kindergarten is run by the Syrian Orthodox Church and is based in a large villa in Erbil. It caters for about 130 Christian children mainly from the IDP camps and from the congregation in Erbil. The eight teachers are led by Mrs Amira Aqrawi – Mrs Aqrawi is herself an IDP from the recently liberated eastern part of Mosul. But she says she is most reluctant to go back there. The children only pay if they can and with your support, we contribute £4,000 / $5,000 for each school year.

Girls School

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. With this in mind, we are supporting a school in Harsham camp north of Erbil. The school educates 30 girls (all Sunni Arab).

The current intake of girls are aged between 11 -14. The Iraqi Ministry of Education provides the curriculum, and we provide the stationary and text books. We also 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.

Autism Centre

The Autism Centre 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.

Remarkably, Dr Firmaisek derives all her diagnostic principles and training methods from publications (in French) from Lebanon. Our support has allowed her to expand the centre and cater for 85 children in two shifts – 5 of them are IDPs. The work is inevitably staff-intensive – Dr Firmaisek has 22 carers.

Health Clinic

The health clinic at St George’s Church in Baghdad is one of our oldest projects. Currently, the clinic employs a team of 17 medical and 2 non-medical staff on a part-time basis. It costs £14,400 / $18,000 per month to run and is open four days a week – Monday to Thursday. Facilities include a laboratory and a pharmacy.

Despite the worsening sectarian violence in the city, the clinic remains steadfast in its mission to treat everyone who comes through its doors, regardless of religious affiliation. The staff treat around 80 patients every day (an average of 16,640 visits every year). Many in the congregation suffer poor health and the local hospitals continue to refer patients.

The pharmacy provides patients, young and old, with a variety of essential medication and drugs as prescribed by the doctors and all free of charge. There are approximately 60 to 100 people on regular medication being support by the pharmacy.

Of the 80 patients who pass through the clinic daily approximately 15 to 20 of these are for dental service. Typical dental treatments take around 30 minutes.

 

Governance

The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME) is registered with The Charity Commission for England and Wales. Our charity number is 1133576. Please click here to see our accounts on the Charity Commission website.

We are privileged to have an amazing Board of Trustees who oversee FRRME. The Board is legally responsible to the Charity Commission for the work of the organisation. Our team of trustees includes a former British Government Head of Mission to Iraq and a serving Foreign and Commonwealth Office official. The Chair of the Board of Trustees is Pastor David Harland, who leads the City Coast Church in Hove.

It was with considerable sadness that the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME) said goodbye to the its founding President, Canon Andrew White, with the Board reluctantly accepting his resignation on 28th October 2016. Andrew has been an inspirational leader and his vision has helped to ensure that FRRME became established in the region as a force for good for both Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities, promoting their cause and giving voice to many persecuted minorities. As many supporters of FRRME will be aware, Andrew has battled multiple sclerosis for over 20 years while continuing his tireless efforts to make people on all continents aware of the plight of these people. Both FRRME and FRRME America have accepted his decision to resign on health grounds.

For further info see this statement from the board of trustees which was published on Friday 4th November 2016 and also appears on the home page of this website.

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Insights from Sarah Ahmed, Director of Operations
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