July 1, 2015 by Janelle P

From Mission Network News

After taking control of dams along the Euphrates River, the Islamic State (IS) is waging a “water war” in Iraq.

The terrorist group has been cutting off water from provinces, making the river run dry. According to Furat al-Timimi of Iraq’s parliamentary Agriculture and Water Committee, the Euphrates has dropped below 50 percent of its normal rate.

“The Islamic State has done a few things like this. This, unfortunately, is not unique,” says Emily Fuentes of Open Doors.

“Whenever the Islamic State is cutting off water or cutting off food points for people to get access of food, water and other materials, it affects not only the region, but all the surrounding regions as well.”

Timimi reports the group has taken control of the Ramadi dam affecting water sources that reach Babel, Karbala, Qadisiyah, and Najaf. The province that will suffer the most from the lack of water will likely be Anbar.

“Even before the current crisis, overuse pollution and population growth had stretched the resources of the Euphrates River, the main source of water for 27 million people not just in Iraq, but in Syria and Turkey, too,” a Business Insider post said.

Since the riverbed started drying out, a sort of “tug of war” game has risen among the three countries. Iraq and Syria have complained that Turkey is reducing the water flow.

The lack of water is now creating a ripple effect on the land.

Crops and animals aren’t getting enough water and are slowly dying out, creating another problem: food shortages for already-suffering and starving people.

The United Nations announced there are around 3 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) within Iraq. Many were forced to leave everything – even their life savings – behind as they fled the violence of IS. Now many can’t afford to pay for food. About 300,000 of the IDPs are Christians.

“These Christians can’t afford food. They don’t have jobs that they can work at now that they’re refugees, and can’t provide for their families. Many of them are in desperate need of food in order to survive and feed their families,” Fuentes says.

Through working with local partners, Open Doors has been providing as much relief as they can.

“We are setting up and working with our partners in the region – a lot of times churches and church leaders – to set up refugee camps for these Christians who have fled,” Fuentes explains. “We’ve really aimed to make it a safe community.”

Open Doors has been taking care of refugees’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Every month for the last two years, it has provided food and hygiene baskets for 10,000 refugee families. Open Doors also gives trauma counseling, Bibles and other Christian materials.

For nearly 25 years, its work has given hope and helped refugees in Iraq survive, but, just like the Euphrates River, funds are drying up.

“Currently there’s a $20,000,000 gap in, for the most part, food supplies,” Fuentes says. “It will be for a while. So Open Doors is there for the long haul. But we are in need of the body of Christ worldwide to stand with these believers.”

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For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.

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