Samaritan's Purse provides emergency relief for thousands displaced by terrible persecution
When Islamist militants overran the ancient Christian town of Qaraqosh in northern Iraq on August 7, 33-year-old Diana had just 10 minutes to flee her birthplace.Help Victims of Persecution in IraqThough nearly midnight, panicked people were running through the streets to escape terrorists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) who, disguised as medics, were shooting people from ambulances. Cars and trucks jammed the road, filled with escaping men, women, and children. A friend saw a man shot in the head. There was no time to pack food or water. The ride from Qaraqosh, just outside Mosul, to Erbil, the largest city in the Kurdish-controlled area of Iraq, took Diana and her fellow group of Christians nine hours instead of the normal one. When they reached that haven, at least they had their lives and the clothes on their backs.
“It’s a nightmare,” Diana said a few days ago from Erbil. “If this situation continues, lots will lose their lives and some will lose their faith. Many are asking where is God.”
Samaritan’s Purse Intensifies Aid Efforts
Diana is one of thousands of people from Christian and various religious minority groups who have fled to Erbil in recent days following gains by ISIS. Others, from more southern points of Iraq, are fleeing to Chamchamal, another area in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq.
Samaritan’s Purse and our partners are responding to the growing humanitarian crisis in Iraq by providing food, shelter, clothing, and more to families displaced by the horrific violence. In Erbil alone, more than 200,000 people have sought refuge since fighting intensified in June.Samaritan’s Purse has expanded its food relief in recent days with the influx of newly displaced families. Within one 48-hour period earlier this week, the organization fed 14,000 people. Samaritan’s Purse also continues to provide monthly supplies to families in Erbil and Chamchamal, as it has since June.
More than 200 tents, along with thousands of pillows and mattresses, have already been set up in Erbil as temporary shelter for Christian families and others fleeing the Mosul area, site of ancient Nineveh. The average family size of those displaced is between seven to 10 people. A total of 500 tents have been purchased for distribution.
Fifty cradle beds for infants have been provided as well, offering the babies protection from biting ants on the ground. In addition, baby/children’s clothing and 4,500 pairs of shoes have been given out.In recent days, Samaritan’s Purse has distributed 650 shoebox gifts through Operation Christmas Child to displaced children in Erbil. Many Christian families have also been glad to receive Bibles from Samaritan’s Purse.
Our recent work builds upon longstanding efforts to help those in need in northern Iraq, a region where we have been actively providing relief since 2007. For instance, as refugees from the now 3.5-year-old civil conflict in Syria flooded into the area late last year, Samaritan’s Purse provided them with food, medicine, clothing, bedding, and kerosene heaters, among other items. Alongside this work, about 65,000 Operation Christmas Child shoebox gifts were airlifted to Erbil in January.
Please pray for our staff and partners as they continue to help in Jesus’ Name. Pray for boldness, strength, and perseverance by Christians facing extreme persecution. Pray for peaceful political transition in Iraq, an end to violence, and for many to be saved.