Church in North Iraq filled with refugees

Refugee Relief: Part 1

Raja* is a young woman from Mosul. For a few years now she has been living in the safer North. After the extremist Islamists of ISIS took over Mosul in June, the majority of the remaining Christians of Mosul also fled to the North. Raja is helping in the relief program for these refugees that is supported by Open Doors and shares about her experiences.

“Shortly after the occupation of Mosul, refugees started coming to our church. It’s was a strange sight for me to see the church halls filled with people, it was so crowded! People aren’t sleeping on beds, but put whatever they can find on the floor and sleep like that. Still they don’t complain, they are relieved that they are out of the threatening situation around Mosul. A woman came to me and said: “It’s much better here than were I came from: we have electricity, running water and the church has air-conditioning. This was all destroyed in the place near Mosul I came from. And at least we’re safe here.”

Iraq - Many take refuge in Church

These refugees fled to the North after ISIS attacked their town. Open Doors helps refugees like these with relief packages.

The situation for Christians in Mosul was already bad when I was still living there, but the stories that I hear from the refugees of Mosul since ISIS is in charge are really horrifying. It makes me sad. It’s crazy to even think of returning right now. Here where I live, refugees continue to come in. Not too long ago Qaraqosh, a Christian town near Mosul, was threatened. While ISIS failed to occupy it, the mortar fire that reached the town was enough to scare many Christians out of the village. So now they’re here and the church is even more crowded.

When it was time to distribute the relief packages, the families quickly gathered around us in the garden of the church. It was overwhelming. I saw the desperate faces of the old men and the mothers that came to collect their food and I felt so sorry for them. All were arguing to get a package first. It was difficult for me to see them but at the same time I was happy that I could help them. It was really an honor for me to do that. The priest tried to calm the people down. And then we started distributing the packages: Rice, tomato sauce and even some canned meat was inside. The next Sunday when I went to church to worship one of the women came to me and told me how happy she was with the help she received: “It was exactly what we needed” she said.”

*Name Changed

Read More from Refugee Relief: Iraq

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