Cutting through the news agenda (if you’re not Meghan Markle)
The thousands of Iraqi refugees we help in Jordan are still desperately in need. They fled ISIS and lost everything. But the news cycle has moved on and the plight of the persecuted is no longer on the front page. Frankly, that is our biggest challenge, keeping the world interested. It is a tough job. There were more articles about Meghan Markle this week than about Iraq’s refugee crisis. We have nothing against Meghan Markle but we want to reach those who are interested in bigger issues. That being said, here is a reminder of the people we have helped (thanks to you).
Enaam was one of the first Iraqi refugees we interviewed in Jordan. She told us the harrowing story of what happened to the people she knew in northern Iraq: “One of my neighbours was only 45. They found her dead on the roof of her house, just covered in a blanket. Other people died and were buried in their gardens. Other people are still missing.” Watch the interview with Enaam here.
Sander spent four days in a prison pit in the Iraqi desert. He calls it “a living grave”. He was put there by men loyal to Al Qaeda. His crime? Being a Christian. Luckily he was rescued by US Marines otherwise he would have starved to death. Sander is now in Jordan with his family. Life is tough and he still experiences flashbacks of his ordeal. Watch the moment Sander was freed here.
Marlene’s father was executed by Al Qaeda on the streets of Mosul. He worked for a Bishop who was also killed. Shockingly, the murderers hung a sign around her dying father’s neck telling people not to move the body. The sign read: “This person does not deserve to have a tomb”. Marlene’s brother was able to recover the body and they gave him a Christian burial. Watch the interview with Marlene here.
A violent past
Sadly, this sort of barbarity is not new to Iraq. Under Saddam, political opponents were forced at gunpoint to applaud the torture and execution in public of their loved ones. It was reported that on one occasion, Saddam told one half of his cabinet to shoot the other half as a way of testing their loyalty. When his regime destroyed the ancient marshes of southern Iraq (the oldest wetlands in the Middle East) the smoke and destruction could be seen from space. An estimated 180,000 Kurds were killed by poison gas in the northern provinces of Iraq.
A positive future?
Iraq has come a long way since those dark days but there is still more to do. Despite the threat of a resurgent ISIS, there is much to be hopeful about. The country has moved away from dictatorship towards elected government and there have been tentative steps towards religious pluralism, although there are those who are pushing back against this. Until Iraq has fully healed, we must continue to help the displaced and dispossessed. Enaam, Sander and Marlene have survived one of the greatest humanitarian disasters in living memory. It is thanks to our supporters that they have a chance of a new life. Thank you.
Please help and make a donation
To support our work in Iraq and Jordan please make a donation 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.