Kitchen kits, jackets, and more are getting into the hands of those forced to flee jihadists.
February, 2015—Late last year, staff members and local partners distributed 80 tons of relief items airlifted by Samaritan’s Purse to the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. Along with other supplies the ministry purchased in-country, the airlifted items including children’s clothing, jackets, blankets, socks, hygiene kits, kitchen kits and tarpaulins, which are now helping thousands of families displaced by ISIS.
Temperatures are dropping below freezing this winter, making life even more difficult for families who had to hurriedly escape Islamic State jihadists. Many are living in tents or unfinished buildings without heat.
In June 2014, Samaritan’s Purse began a sustained and ongoing ministry to those fleeing the recent ISIS advances. Several weeks later, that effort was significantly increased as Sinjar and towns on the Nineveh plains fell into militant hands.
Ongoing Relief for the Persecuted
On October 27, Samaritan’s Purse distributed 128 kitchen kits to residents of a camp in Erbil. Most of the more than 200 families who have found shelter there are Chaldean/Assyrian Christians from the village of Qaraqosh. When speaking among themselves, some use an ancient tongue, distantly related to the Aramaic spoken in Jesus’ day.
Samaritan’s Purse has provided food, blankets, mattresses, a large generator, a playground, Christian literature, and 40 dome tents to the camp.
Nissan, 48, and his family were among those to receive a kitchen kit with pots, plates, cups, and utensils. Grateful for the help, they began using the items to prepare lunch. His escape story represents the experiences of many of his camp neighbors.
As ISIS advanced on August 6, Nissan’s family joined the chaotic mass exodus from Qaraqosh. They hitched rides in terrible traffic, walked over seven miles, and waited hours at checkpoints to finally reach Erbil. A college-educated pharmacist, Nissan managed to bring along two bags of medicine and not much else. Though they tried to take along some rice and oil, they ended up having to leave it on the streets. After three days in an Erbil hotel, they moved to the camp.
Nissan and his wife today share their dome tent with three daughters, two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren.
“It is very difficult to stay here,” he said.
He has no job and the cost of living is high. (They need money for food, clothing, daily items, etc.) Even though he’s heard that businesses and houses have been looted back at his village, the Christian man wants to return to his lifelong home as soon as it is relatively safe.
Father Douglas, who runs the camp, seems to always be smiling and tries to keep the families encouraged. He previously lived in Baghdad and while there was kidnapped, beaten and shot by those who hate the name of Christ.
“As Christians, we don’t have to complain,” he said. “We are already prepared for black, bad days. We are still like salt and light. We are few but we are making a difference.”
As Samaritan’s Purse works with our local church partners—some of whom are displaced themselves and have lost nearly everything they own because of ISIS persecution—they are growing bolder both in meeting physical needs and sharing the love of God. As they help with distributions, they are coming into contact with Yazidis, Muslims, and others who never would have given them a hearing before.
“There’s an opportunity for local Christians to reach out to their neighbors like never before,” said Tim Windmeyer, Deputy Director of International Projects, who recently returned from a trip to Iraq.
Windmeyer told of a distribution at a mall where 1,200 displaced people had found shelter but were in great need of food. It was late at night, and our staff asked for a handful of local Christian volunteers to help. More than two dozen believers, who had fled Mosul, eagerly volunteered to assist, and they went from family to family welcoming each as they gave out food.
Please continue to pray for our staff and church partners ministering in Iraq, and for displaced families to receive the help they need this winter.