Like the Christian communities of Northern Iraq, when the ISIS insurgents swept across the Nineveh Plain in 2014, over 400,000 Yazidis were also displaced. This year, fighting has displaced thousands more. From the initial wave, much like how our Christian brothers and sisters in Jordan and other neighboring countries, have not found the region suitable for a return; around 250,000 Yazadis who sought refuge in neighboring regions found they had nothing to return to as well. The businesses, homes, and basic services like water and electricity were severely disrupted in their hometowns. In many places, the infrastructure in place prior to the invasion was either too delicate to withstand attack or it was deliberately sabotaged by the insurgents. Upon returning, what water was left, if any at all, was not clean enough to drink.
Several NGOs have made it their mission to return the water to Sinjar. Inter-organizational cooperation to implement programs for Yazidis is signaling a focus on Northern Iraq, not previously seen, and will potentially help to reroot the lives of hundreds of thousands who wish to return to their homeland. News like this brings us abundant hope for our mission of hope, help and healing for the people of Iraq.
In 2021, the United Nations Office for Project Services and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) announced their plans to dig wells and resume clean water distribution to the people of Sinjar. Similarly, the The Building Peaceful Futures Project, a cooperation of the Australian Government and Save the Children, began initiating plans to dig wells for the Yazidi communities in Sinjar. One of these projects, implemented by Save the Children, was sorely needed for the Yazidi communities that have begun returning to the region. In the meantime, the organization and others like it, are working to rebuild the infrastructure to resume water filtration to homes, businesses and schools by distributing clean water in bottles and larger tanks with purification units. This has enabled families to return to Sinjar and to enroll their children in school again, without fear that they will have no water to drink or that they will become sick from the water that is available to them during the school day.
“I love Sinjar so much because it is my homeland, my home, the place where I was born,” says 13-year-old Rana* (name changed for security reasons) from Iraq, in a recent interview with Save the Children.
Rana is a Yazidi from Sinjar who was six years old when ISIS took her town. Her family had to flee into the mountains for safety. They stayed there for seven nights with little food and water.
After more than three years of living in a displacement camp, Rana’s family was ready to move back home. They join many Yazidis who are determined to rebuild their homes, despite the violence that continues to destabilize parts of northern Iraq.
Rana remembers the moment she returned to school. “When the schools opened, there were not many teachers…the old water tanks were perforated and the water was dirty so we just washed our hands with it.”
The organization distributed water tanks and sterilization units to the school, and set up water distribution networks all over Sinjar. This is making an enormous difference in the lives of the communities that call Sinjar home.
This mission, and others like it, is an important piece in the puzzle of helping life resume for those who have been displaced by sectarian violence. International and inter-organizational cooperation like this will be absolutely critical moving forward for our organization, and any other organization that shares the same geopolitical spaces that we do.
If we are to rebuild Northern Iraq for its most vulnerable communities, particularly in areas with broken infrastructure and continuing challenges posed by political and sectarian violence, we must work together to provide basic needs and a restart to all who are returning.
Previously, our work in Northern Iraq has helped Christians and Yazidis rebuild businesses and resume their lives. We also work to provide hope, help and healing to the diaspora of Iraqi Christians who have refugee status in Jordan. Our mission continues with a laser focus on bettering the lives of the Iraqi people within Iraq.
In Baghdad, St. George’s Church and Clinic continues to provide essential dental care to the people of the city. Amongst the refugee community residing in Jordan, the General Greer Scholarship will help provide children with the tools they need to succeed in school and brighten their futures wherever they go; whether that is a future in Northern Iraq, or anywhere else in the world.
This work by Save the Children, the Australian Government, the United Nations and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS) is an encouraging development in the mission to restore the lives of refugees and displaced persons. As we grow and expand our own programs, inter-organizational cooperation like this is essential.
American FRRME’s Mission of Hope, Help, and Healing
American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (American FRRME) is a U.S.-based Christian charity that aims to bring hope, help and healing in the Middle East, assisting Iraqi Christian refugees and other religious minorities.
American FRRME works to support the ongoing needs of Iraqis – primarily Christian Iraqis – who fled Iraq and Kurdistan during the ISIS insurgency in 2014. The organization supports those displaced within Iraq many of whom remain living in Internally Displaced People (IDP) camps in Baghdad and northern Iraq, as well as supporting those who fled to neighboring Jordan.
Working in partnership with churches in Iraq and Jordan, in 2019 we established the Olive Tree Center in Madaba, Jordan. The center currently provides a safe and accessible place for Iraqi refugees to gather together and celebrate their culture together. Crucially, the center provides education and therapeutic activities including English classes, sewing, art and music, along with a mosaic and wood workshop and fresh produce garden.