Working with people of all faiths
England’s most senior Catholic prelate, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, has called for more to be done to rebuild Christian communities in Iraq. The Cardinal’s appeal follows last week’s visit to the UK by Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil. As one of the highest ranking Catholics in Iraq, Archbishop Warda has expressed concerns that Christians of all denominations in his country are facing extinction.
Mike Simpson (FRRME CEO) spoke with the Archbishop at an event in the UK Parliament last month. He raised the issue of deteriorating relations between the US and Iran. There is great nervousness about how this will play out, considering that Iranian-backed militias in Iraq are gaining more influence there. Many fear that the Christians in Iraq could once again be caught in the middle of any conflict.
As a Christian charity seeking to promote peace-building in Iraq, we work with people of all religious groups. And we practice what we believe. We employ staff from different Christian denominations, as well as those of other faiths; Anglican, Roman Catholic, Muslim, and Charismatic Protestants, everyone works towards a common goal – reconciliation between different ethno-religious groups in Iraq.
News from the Nineveh Plain
Working together is vital if we are to meet the challenges head-on. According to new figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM Iraq) there are 137 communities in the Nineveh Plain where displaced people have still not returned. When ISIS swept through the Nineveh Plain in the summer of 2014, nearly 1 million people fled to Iraqi Kurdistan for sanctuary. After ISIS was defeated on the battlefield in 2016, it was hoped that these internally displaced people would return. However, many have stayed away. According to the IOM report, lack of security and essential services and the presence of mines and IEDs are the main reasons many will not return.
Despite the risks, many thousands of Christians who fled have bravely returned to their homes. They struggle every day to make ends meet. Jobs in the Nineveh Plain are scarce following the destruction of businesses by ISIS. This is why we set up our job-creation programme, called ‘Nineveh SEED’. Long-term economic recovery in the Nineveh Plain cannot be achieved unless there are jobs. So far, we have funded the building of commercial greenhouses in the village of Karamles which will be used to grow food year-round. We are also in the process of securing funding for a network of chicken farms and shops such as a bakery in Qaraqosh.
The scale of the problem should not deter us from helping
According to UN figures, there are an estimated 6.7 million people in Iraq in need of humanitarian assistance. Of all the regions, by far the greatest number is in the Nineveh Governorate where over 2 million people need urgent help. We cannot help everyone but with your support we can create individual livelihoods through which whole families can be helped. For example, the bakery in Qaraqosh will create 8 new jobs. The project will also show other returning Christians that economic revitalization is possible with enough support. As with all our Nineveh SEED projects, we are selective about whom we fund and where we work. All our Nineveh SEED projects are supervised by our tireless Iraq Programme Manager, Abdulrahman Mohammed.
How you can help
Please support our Nineveh SEED initiative. Employment creation is vital for the Christian communities in Iraq who are desperate to rebuild their shattered lives. You can make a donation now via our donate page (there are numerous options for how to donate). Alternatively, you can send us a cheque made out to ‘FRRME’ to: FRRME, PO Box 229, Petersfield, Hants, GU32 9DL, United Kingdom.
American supporters wishing to make a donation can do so here.