Warmth for Syrian Refugees
January 6, 2013 • Iraq
Northern-Iraq-refugee-camp-heater-cover

Samaritan's Purse provides heaters to stave off the cold of winter for people living in camps in northern Iraq

In December, Franklin Graham and Fox New host Greta Van Susteren visited a refugee camp in northern Iraq where Samaritan’s Purse is providing help for Syrians who have fled a fierce civil war in their homeland.

Help Syrian RefugeesThey met a 90-year-old woman living in a tent with her daughter. They could only borrow a heater for two hours a day in an attempt to stay warm.

“I thought to myself, my father is 95 years old. Could I imagine trying to care for my father, in a tent like this, sleeping on the floor in the rain and the cold?” Graham said.

Graham committed to providing 2,000 heaters for the camp to help refugees fight off the bitterly cold winter.

WARMING BODIES AND SOULS: Greta Van Susteren blogs about the heaters arriving at the refugee camp.

On Sunday, we began distributing the heaters.

“The families that have received them have been extremely grateful as it has dropped close to freezing here almost every night,” said a Samaritan’s Purse staff member working in Iraq.

Samaritan’s Purse also will be airlifting some 65,000 shoebox gifts to show the love of God to Syrian children living in the refugee camps. The special airlift is scheduled to leave the United States on January 17.

Franklin Graham and Greta Van Susteren visit a 90-year-old refugee in her tent. Graham pledged to provide 2,000 heaters to stave off the cold of winter.

Franklin Graham and Greta Van Susteren visit a 90-year-old refugee in her tent. Graham pledged to provide 2,000 heaters to stave off the cold of winter.

Van Susteren, host of On the Record on Fox News Channel, has accompanied Graham on several trips. She has reported on Samaritan’s Purse work in North Korea, South Sudan, Haiti, and Alaska.

Because of her advocacy on behalf of the people of Haiti in the aftermath of the earthquake in 2010, an orphanage constructed and supported by Samaritan’s Purse is named in her honor.

The Power of Helping in Jesus’ Name

Samaritan’s Purse has been working in this region of northern Iraq since August, when Iraq offered asylum to Syrians caught in the crossfire of a fierce civil war. We have provided supplement food, and household relief kits.

Samaritan's Purse ministry partners are giving the heaters to needy families.

Samaritan’s Purse ministry partners are giving the heaters to needy families.

The refugee crisis was created by an internal conflict that has been tearing Syria apart for more than two years. Forces loyal to the Ba’ath government and president Bashar al-Assad are battling with rebel factions seeking to grab control. Caught in the middle are innocent families who live in constant fear of violence.

Death and insecurity have forced millions of Syrians to run for their lives, with more than two million seeking refuge in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. Three-quarters of these refugees are women and children, according to United Nations reports.

There are about 208,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, many of them living in tent camps.

There are about 208,000 Syrian refugees in Iraq, many of them living in tent camps.

Samaritan’s Purse was closely monitoring this large influx of refugees. Within hours of the border opening in August, we had a team on the ground in northern Iraq and began working with local partners to provide relief.

“One refugee we spoke to claimed that some Islamic militants threatened to kill him, his wife, and their six children, which caused the family to flee,” said a staff member. “They hope to return to their home in Syria one day soon but not until the situation in their country stabilizes.”

Our team soon discovered that the government was providing three meals a day and shelter for more than 190,000 refugees, but there were other people—families unaccustomed to asking for help—falling through the cracks. Samaritan’s Purse identified and worked to fill these gaps in the government’s response.

“Most of the people here do not fit the typical Western view of a refugee,” said a Samaritan’s Purse disaster response team member. “Many are well-educated, middle class families that likely never imagined having to leave a life behind and fleeing to another country.”

Reaching the Forgotten

Samaritan’s Purse partnered with local Christians to develop a standard household relief kit for distribution to families. This kit provided a supplemental food ration that can last up to one month. We trained church leadership on how to manage the inventory and efficiently pack the individual kits.

According to UN numbers, there are about 70,000 children living in refugee camps in Iraq.

According to UN numbers, there are about 70,000 children living in refugee camps in Iraq.

One of the kits made it into the hands of Salih, a father of five, who left his home and factory job making shoes in Syria for safety in Iraq. Salih found out about the kits from a local believer who saw him on the street and, like the Good Samaritan, did not pass by on the other side.

“I heard about the distribution when a church member stopped to give me some extra change and invited me,” he said.

Salih was grateful for what Samaritan’s Purse provided through the local church. The extra food for his children was a respite from some of the daily pressure of putting food on the table.

“You have really helped us,” he said. “Thank you, may God bless you.”

The team went on to purchase tons of basic commodities such as rice, sugar, lentils, chickpeas, cooking oil, baby diapers and nutrition, and shoes. They were delivered to refugee camps. We also distributed hundreds of mattresses and thousands of diapers.

Providing Ongoing Relief

Samaritan's Purse worked through our local church partner to provide food for Hanadi and her family.

Samaritan’s Purse worked through our local church partner to provide food for Hanadi and her family.

After our initial disaster response phase was complete, we focused on a long-term strategy with the aim of continuing to provide relief to refugee families living inside camps and in host communities throughout northern Iraq.

Of all the needs Syrians have, prayer is perhaps the greatest. Millions have fled their homes, leaving everything behind. They now find themselves in foreign lands living in tents and off government assistance.

“Destruction is all around us,” said a woman helped by Samaritan’s Purse. “Shops are closed. We stand in line for hours for a loaf of bread. We can’t afford fruits and vegetables. Our only hope is in the Lord, Jesus Christ. We need your prayers to keep us safe.”

SUPPORT
Middle East Relief Samaritan's Purse is providing shelter, food, clothing, and more to families fleeing from Islamic militants. We are continuing to supply emergency food and other supplies as refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria are pouring into northern Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. We also support local ministry partners throughout the region as they provide physical relief in Jesus' Name to suffering people.

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