An Iraqi Christian nurse tries to save her father
We cannot tell you her real name (we will call her Raschel). However, we can tell you what happened to her. Raschel is from the city of Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan. The city is regarded as the capital of Sorani Kurdish culture and is the only city in southern Kurdistan to celebrate World Music Day. The city is liberal and open in character. It even has its own Chinatown (where an estimated 500 Chinese people live).
But by early 2014, dark clouds of extremism had started to gather over northern Iraq. Although Raschel had a rewarding job working as a nurse, she could see the writing on the wall and decided to leave. She says: “I fled to Turkey and hoped to go to the West. However, my elderly father refused to leave. He was too afraid. Later on, he called and asked that I come back and get him. I agreed but the day I returned to Iraq ISIS came.”
Taken to Mosul and sold as a sex slave
“Using loud speakers, ISIS ordered everyone out of their homes and herded us into the mosque. It was terrifying. They separated the Christians into groups. They sent the elderly to Erbil. I don’t know what happened to the group of young men. Then, they took me and another young lady to a house in Mosul where people came to buy young women as sex slaves. They dressed us up to make us look attractive so that people would pay more.
“The girl captured with me was sold to a man after two days. Then a man bought me and took me to Raqqa in Syria and then south to Deir ez-Zor. Since that first time, I was sold to other men. Once to a Saudi, another time to a Moroccan, all were members of ISIS. I was beaten very badly, humiliated, tortured and raped. My wounds were very deep. One night, I was thinking of committing suicide when Jesus appeared to me in a dream. He told me ‘You have come this far, do not harm yourself.’ He put His arm around my shoulder and encouraged me.
Safety at last in Jordan (the UK will not take her)
We cannot share the details of how Raschel escaped captivity in case it compromises the security of those involved. Needless to say, it took a lot of courage. Raschel is now living in Jordan and has been reunited with her father. Her story is not unique. We are assisting over 6,000 Iraqi Christian refugees in the country, working closely with four church partners on the ground. Raschel is getting support from Christians in Jordan but like the refugees in our care, she hopes she and her father will be able to go to the West. Sadly, the UK does not take many Iraqi Christian refugees.
We submitted an FOI request to the Home Office asking how many Iraqi Christian refugees were granted asylum in 2018. Shockingly, the answer is 10. This is despite the British parliament designating the ISIS persecution of Christians as ‘genocide’. This week has seen the publication of Bishop Mounstephen’s review into the global persecution of Christians. We welcome some of the recommendations but do not believe they go far enough. Our CEO, Mike Simpson, was quoted in The Tablet and Premier on this important issue. The recommendations of the review included a ‘toolkit’ to make British government officials more ‘religiously literate’. Giving refuge to persecuted Christians like Raschel is not mentioned.
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Thanks for reading. To help refugees like Raschel, 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.