Where Are The Iraqi Refugees Now?
By noon on July 19th, all Christians were expected to be out of Mosul, Iraq, having been given the ultimatum by the Islamic extremist group ISIS to leave, pay a huge fine or be killed. Before this ultimatum was given, very few Christians remained in Mosul. In Qaragosh, which is about 15 miles away from Mosul, it is reported that around 200-250 families have fled here since the attacks. All around Mosul, refugees have frantically fled hoping to find a shadow of safety. “ISIS seems intent on wiping out all traces of minority groups from areas it now controls in Iraq,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch.. Faiez,* his wife Hawwa and their four young children fled Mosul last week. The story of their escape from Mosul is horrifying, and unfortunately not an exception. Faiez, who used to be a government employee in Mosul, shares how they quickly had to prepare for their departure after ISIS gave them the ultimatum. Through a local partner organization, Open Doors is supporting them with relief. Arriving at the ISIS checkpoint leaving the city, they had to get out of their car. The car was taken by soldiers. The men were separated from the women and children. “My 9-year-old son was crying and shouting the whole time,” shares Faiez. “He thought he would never see me again.” Faiez still can’t believe that they really lost everything. They are thankful that the village and the church they fled to are taking such good care of them. “Through the church, you helped us with mattresses and food baskets,” he says. “I am thankful, but still, today I got this food basket. I will probably receive another one sometime soon. But what’s in my future? What is the future of my children?” Through partner organizations, Open Doors continues to provide relief to Hawwa and Faiez, as well as to 3,000 other families who have been robbed of everything they own. Many of them are grieving the loss of or separation from family members, and are traumatized by the violent events that have taken place around them. Towns like these have to deal with a number of refugees as big as the town’s original population. With the help of Open Doors-supported partner organizations, these predominantly Christian towns and villages are generously supporting everyone who asks for their help, both Muslims and Christians. One Muslim family in the town that the fieldworkers visited could not stop expressing how grateful they were that the church was also taking care of them. “We will never forget it,” they said. Join us in praying for the country of Iraq, ranked #4 on the World Watch List, and for all Christian refugees. “Do you not fear me? declares the LORD. Do you not tremble before me? I placed the sand as the boundary for the sea, a perpetual barrier that it cannot pass; though the waves toss, they cannot prevail; though they roar, they cannot pass over it.”
*Names have been changed to protect their identity.