Watch: Inside an Iraq Refugee Camp – in a Shopping Mall
I’m walking through a refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq, where thousands of Christians who were displaced by ISIS have fled in recent months.
But this refugee camp looks different than you might imagine: it’s in a shopping mall.
After walking past rows of stores selling clothing, shoes, and cosmetics, I eventually reach an area of the mall where more than 150 Christian families are living in small apartments graciously donated by the owner of the shopping mall.
Clothing and towels are draped along the balconies of the mall, and as I look down the staircases I can see floor after floor of housing, where refugees are cooking, cleaning, organizing the few possessions they own.
Most of these families arrived here in Erbil with little more than their clothing. Stripped of their homes and their money – everything they owned – when ISIS invaded Mosul and surrounding villages, these families are surviving on food and basic supplies provided by Open Doors.
Children race through the hallways, playing with cardboard boxes from food deliveries. Adults are cooking food and looking for work. It’s a new reality for Iraq’s Christians, many of whom have been forced to leave everything behind.
For most refugees I spoke with, living in limbo is the hardest part. Although many refugees ultimately wish to return to their homes and villages– now under ISIS control – most feel that may never happen.
“We want to go home, but how can we even consider it?” one man told me.
Take action to help Iraqi Christians today by supporting the work of Open Doors, learning about advocacy initiatives for persecuted Christians in the Middle East, and praying for believers who have been displaced. You can also share this article and encourage your friends to take action to help Iraqi Christians.