Northern Iraq, a sectarian cauldron
ISIS in Iraq is still alive. The remnants of its fighting force are in Anbar, Iraq’s Sunni heartland. It’s ideology lives on in vile propaganda videos still available on the Internet. The Salafism which drives ISIS is still popular among Sunnis in the wider region. It is not a spent force.
In the wake of its Caliphate, land ruled by terror is now being fought over by armed groups. Shia militias loyal to Iran, Kurdish Peshmerga, Assyrian separatists, and the Iraqi Government all want control. Sadly, the Christians and other persecuted minorities are caught in the middle.
In this war-torn part of the country, our team on the ground is delivering vital aid to thousands of refugees. This includes food packages, water and winter clothing. Many of the people we are helping are Sunnis who would not subscribe to ISIS’ ideology. However, the majority of the people we are helping are Christians, burnt from their homes for their faith.
Providing relief and education
Currently, we are working with the Armenian and Syrian Orthodox churches. Through our partnership with them, we are able to feed thousands of people every month. Sadly, many of the Christians cannot return to their homes because the security situation is so dire.
As well as aid, are also funding a kindergarten in Erbil which caters for 130 children. We provide stationary and text books to Christian refugee children in Ankawa 2 refugee camp. In keeping with our non-sectarian beliefs, we also support a school for Muslim girls in Harsham refugee camp.
Autism centre in Kirkuk
We also fund an autism centre in the city of Kirkuk. The centre is the brainchild of Dr Jaleel who herself had two autistic children and found absolutely no arrangements to support them anywhere in the Iraqi educational or medical institutions. In Iraq, such children have traditionally been classified as mad and shut away. Amazingly, Dr Jaleel derives all her diagnostic principles and training from medical books (written in French) bought from Lebanon.
Our support for the Centre has allowed Dr Jaleel to expand. From humble beginnings, a team of 22 carers now looks after 85 children. The children are primarily refugees, displaced from their homes as a result of the ISIS incursion. More recently, fighting between Iraqi government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga, as well as the presence of Shia militias in the city, has presented new challenges for Dr Jaleel and her team. However, the work continues.
St George’s Church is a beacon in Baghdad
St George’s Church is the only Anglican Church in Iraq. It is ministered by the Revd Faiz Jerjes who is the first Iraqi to be ordained in the Anglican church. Faiz is an extraordinary man, recently honoured by the Iraqi Ministry of Culture for his role in supporting human rights (read more about this here).
We continue to fund a free, non-sectarian health clinic at St George’s. To read more about the clinic please click here. We also provide food packages to some of the poorest members of the congregation.