Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
Iraq: Despair, Hope in Refugee Camps Just over two months since the first influx of refugees, Open Doors worker Sara (her real name protected for security reasons) visited the Kurdish Iraqi city of Erbil. The area has been flooded with refugees who have been fleeing from fighters of the extremist Islamic State (IS). Sara visited refugee camps where local churches are providing aid with the support of Open Doors. “I visited a number of camps in the Christian community of Ankawa in Erbil,” she says. “There I saw that many refugees are trying to pick up the thread of their lives as much as possible. It is quiet. Here and there, celebrations are held. Life goes on. At the same time, I found other refugees weeping and in deep mourning in their tents.” She adds that many people are “severely traumatized. Many have lost everything. Often they are fleeing for the second, third or even fourth time. One man told me, ‘Of my 58 years, I have lived only eight years in peace. Sometimes I wish my parents had never brought me into the world.'” Sara says that almost all the refugees want to leave the country. But many Christians can’t afford to go to Europe or the United States. Iraq: Open Doors, Partners Helping 16,000 Families In close cooperation with local churches and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Open Doors has distributed 19,728 food packages and 8,700 hygiene kits through Oct. 1 in northern Iraq. A total of 16,035 refugee families have been helped. The relief goods have been distributed mainly to Christian Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Open Doors and its partners helped IDP’s in more than 60 villages and cities in the last three months. Erbil and Dohuk were cities with the largest concentration of families which received help. Contents of the food packages included rice, sugar, cooking oil, tea, canned chicken and milk powder. The hygiene kits included soap, washing powder and washing fluid. Many families received mattresses, blankets and pillows. Some refugees in Erbil were also supported with child-friendly spaces in one of the camps which included clean water, coolers, toilets, cooking gas and generators. Over 5,600 families received clothing vouchers. In preparation for the upcoming bitter winter weather, Open Doors through its partners started distributing stoves for heating. Over 730 stoves were distributed through Oct. 1. To support the Iraqi refugees and other refugees in the Middle East, go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org. Nigeria: Chibok Girls Captivity Marks Six Months Six months ago on the evening of April 14, Boko Haram militants stormed the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, in northern Nigeria. Over 250 girls were kidnapped by the Islamic terrorist group. The girls have not yet been found and reunited with their grieving families. Open Doors has been lifting up the girls and their families in prayer while also visiting and supporting their parents and loved ones. Open Doors workers in Nigeria report that many of the captives have been through a terrible ordeal for the last six months. The girls likely have been repeatedly raped and have endured various forms of torture. Also, many of the girls probably have been sold into slavery. But the Chibok girls are not the only ones who have been terrorized in northern Nigeria. The Open Doors team in Nigeria reported the kidnapping of hundreds, if not thousands, of children and adults as part of the forced Islamization by Boko Haram. If the girls were to be released or rescued, they obviously would have to recover not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. One woman who survived a Boko Haram kidnapping told an Open Doors worker: “Out of fear I converted to Islam. But will Christ accept me back?” Open Doors delivered prayer messages of support from around the world to the parents of the Chibok girls in May and August. Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575.