In January, one of our Trustees, Christopher Segar, went to Erbil in Northern Iraq to see the positive impact our projects are having. From 2003 – 2004 Christopher was Head of Mission in Iraq, tasked by the British Government with setting up a diplomatic presence in the country.

Over the next three weeks, we will be sharing Christopher’s updates with you. This week focuses on our emergency relief projects in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Christopher Segar at the entrance of Baharka Camp north of Erbil

The situation in Iraqi Kurdistan

The economy in Iraqi Kurdistan seems to have been hit hard by the fall in the oil price and the cuts in Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) oil exports through Turkey. Consequently, there are more and more power cuts (apparently more off than on now). Everyone has a stand-by generator. Erbil has been heavily developed since 2003. However, many building projects are visibly on hold. Even so, the KRG pays significant costs for all the IDP camps in its territory, which are managed by the Barzani Charity Foundation (BCF) in partnership with UNHCR: mainly providing the land and the supply of electricity. Most of the camps drill for their own supplies of ground water. Security in and around the camps is provided by the KRG police and Peshmerga (Kurdish army).

Baharka Camp
A group photo of our IDP volunteers in Baharka Camp

Baharka, north of Erbil, is a smallish camp housing approximately 4,100 occupants. It may soon begin to take more IDPs from the emergency camps near Mosul such as Khazir. Currently, more than half the occupants at Baharka are Shabak from the Nineveh Province. Most of the rest are Sunni Arabs. There are also 18 Palestinian families. In addition to supplementary food supplies, we are funding an ambulance service from a neighbouring petrol station. We also employ a number of volunteers, themselves IDPs, who help with food distribution.

Debaga Camp
Dr Sarah Ahmed, our Director of Operations in the Middle East, and her team of helpers at the FRRME kitchen at Debaga Camp in Makhmour

Debaga, south of Erbil, was set up in late 2015 to house IDPs from the ISIS incursion into the plains around Makhmour. It is the largest camp in Iraqi Kurdistan. Capacity peaked last year at 35,000 but is now down to around 22,000, mainly Sunni Arabs and Kurds. While there, we visited our supplementary kitchen project which provides lunches and dinners to families whose accommodation does not allow them to cook for themselves. The food (mainly rice and stew) is distributed in bulk with small vans. This project also provides some social interaction for the camp’s occupants, as well as employment for the helpers.


The courtyard of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qaraqosh.
ISIS used it as a shooting range

Some of you may have read last week’s report about Qaraqosh. When we visited the city, which is predominantly Christian, we found that none of the churches had been cleaned up since the first western journalists went there last November immediately after the liberation. There is still no power or water in the city and very few people stay overnight. There are three police stations, a small municipal office and a primitive health centre. Access and security are formally in the hands of the Plain of Nineveh Units (PNU), an informal brigade formed from Christian members of the Iraqi army.

Did you know?

We are registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales. Please type our charity number (1133576) into the search box for more info. As a Christian charity, we are feeding displaced and dispossessed people of all creeds. In doing so, our mission is to bring together different sectarian groups that have been driven apart by war. If you would like to help, please see the giving options below.

How you can help

If you are a UK resident, you can make a single or regular donation via our website by clicking here.

American supporters can make a donation via our sister organisation, FRRME America, by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can make a donation to The Winter Crisis Appeal for Iraqi Refugees by clicking here.

Thank you,
The FRRME Team