Refugee Relief: Part 3
Raja* is a young woman from Mosul. For a few years now she has been living in the safer North of Iraq. 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.
“I can’t believe what is happening now. And it’s all happening all so fast. 2000 years of Christian history and presence is being destroyed. I am confused and sad. Everybody is. On the news I saw that they replaced the cross on our church in Mosul with the black flag of the Islamic State. They are doing a call of Islamic prayer from our church now, like they are turning it into a mosque. I can’t believe it. I just wanted to cry when I saw this. Past weekend the Islamic State gave Christians in Mosul an ultimatum: convert, pay a high tax, leave before Saturday July 19th by 12:00 midday or die. All Christians chose to leave. This is what we have feared for a long time.
My aunt and her sons were the last ones of my family to flee from Mosul. They left after the threat of the Islamic State last weekend and are staying with the married daughter of the family here in the North now. They are devastated. My aunt kept crying. Her husband died a long time ago and she has raised her children on her own. She cried: “What do I do now? I have nothing left. They even took my house!” Two other houses of relatives have also been taken. They left one of the houses a while ago. They asked a Muslim neighbor to live in it, because they knew it would be protected if a Muslim would live there. But the Islamic State came and stole their house anyhow because somehow they knew it was owned by Christians.
It’s a chaos situation, we don’t know what to do, where to go. We have been moving around so much in the past years. Every time we picked up our belongings and went to the next place. My nephew is 22 and was in the middle of his exams when they fled Mosul last weekend. How will he finish his studies now? He is very keen on his study and now everything is gone. That’s the general feeling here now: everything is gone. My fled relatives own nothing anymore. While my niece is happy to take care of her mother and brothers, she needs the help from the church. Yesterday my brother went to church to collect matrasses and food for my aunt and her sons and brought it to my niece’s house. It’s very important to have this support from the church now. The support was given by Open Doors through a partner organization.
Sometimes I feel like crying, but I pray that God gives me strength. Christians in Iraq have shown their support for the most affected Christians by holding gatherings and planning marches. We also changed our Facebook profile pictures to the letter ‘N’ of ‘Nasrani’ or ‘Christians’. In Mosul this letter was used to mark the Christian houses. It’s encouraging to see that around the world people are supporting us. We are still proud to be Christians. We will always be.”
**Open Doors co-supports this relief work among Christians who fled and found shelter in other villages. Relief is done in a joint effort with local churches and NGO’s.