A village in Iraq sits peaceful among the snowy mountains, but is has been anything but peaceful during the last few months. Refugees have fled here from attacks from the Islamic extremist group ISIS.
A local cafeteria worker shares about the fearful days when ISIS was threatening their town last summer. “We had to close the cafeteria for three days because of the situation. Most people fled or were preparing to flee soon.”
After it became clear that ISIS wouldn’t take over the village, 75% of the villagers returned. The mayor of this village comments that he never saw the refugees as a burden: “We are all equal; we are all human. We knew we had to take care of everyone, whether they were Christians or had another religion.”
Two young refugees echo the mayor: “The villagers have been very kind to us. We never felt like strangers here. We feel at home.” They show us their little ‘house’, which is a small room in the clinic with some beds and a TV. “We don’t know about the future. It’s difficult to find jobs, and we can’t live in this clinic forever.”
While staying in a public building is a short-term solution for these refugees, better housing is needed. From the clinic, you can see endless miles of glowing mountains. “If the situation does get better, we can always make this a holiday park,” jokes one of the villagers.
Keeping the refugees’ spirits light is a goal of the clinic. However, life must go on even here. The past few months have been rough in this village, but they hope and pray that the future will be brighter.
*The cafeteria and clinic are supported by Open Doors through a local partner.
Iraq is ranked No. 3 on the Open Doors 2015 World Watch List of the worst persecutors of Christians. Open Doors is working through local partners in Iraq to help strengthen and help refugees as the need grows greater every day.
Compiled by Janelle Powers. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575.