AMAR U.S. Launches Winter Warmer Emergency Response to assist Christian families in Iraq

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Christopher Kyriacou
CEO – Amar U.S.
26/11/14

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AMAR U.S. has launched a Winter Warmer Emergency Response to assist Christian families in Iraq who have been forced to flee from ISIS, and face a difficult winter ahead in tents or temporary shelters. The Christian families we are working with in northern and central Iraq are in desperate need of blankets, mattresses and winter clothing. Many fled their homes with just the clothes on their backs and now need protection from the rain, flooding and the plunging temperatures.

We hope you might be able to share the flyer attached with your members as we try to raise funds to support at least 1,000 refugees with bedding, clothing and space heaters.

Working with the local government, the United Nations and other organizations, AMAR is consulting local religious leaders to ensure our Winter Warmer materials go to those who need it most, doing our best to make sure no one is left out in the cold this Christmas. Thousands continue to flee the Islamic State every week. People like 75-year-old Ameira Saleem Jabouri who fled from Mosul with her daughter, Haifa Fareed, 47, whose story we include below.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you would like more details about our response work, and thank you for your kind consideration.

Haifa and Ameira’s Story

Haifa and Ameira now share part of a Church Hall in Erbil and sleep on mattresses on the floor. A week before IS invaded Mosul, Adnan received a text message. It demanded the family pay a ransom of $20,000 or their house would be blown up. They were given a week to come up with the cash.

“We were terrified, and there was no way we could find this money, or anything like that. We put all the money we had together in the world (around $1200) and sent a cash transfer on the telephone to the number that had texted us,” explained Haifa.

“We knew that would not be the last of it though, but it gave us a bit of time to pack up what we could and leave,” she added.

For Haifa and her mother, their sudden status as refugees in a strange city has left them traumatized.

“We are often in tears thinking about what we have lost, but we at least escaped with our lives. I know many people have died and we our safe, so that is something.” Haifa speculates on how the IS fighters got her number. “We think it was a close friend of my husband who we have since heard is linked to Daesh (IS). He gave our numbers away to his new friends. God forgive him,” she explained.

They have since heard that other Christian families also had similar messages.

Ameira is close to tears as her daughter explains their situation and later says: “I have left my home, my old life, my memories behind in Mosul. I cannot believe this has happened really. Nobody expected it at all. It was such a terrible shock.”

Samir and Jamal’s Story

An elderly man, Samir Jacob Hanoushi and his wife, Jamal, listen intently to Ameira’s conversation and then tell their own story.

A retired teacher, Samir, aged 70, speaks a few words of English, but feels more comfortable speaking in Arabic.

The couple fled Mosul shortly before the IS invaded and came to the church in Erbil to ask for their help. They left with just a few possessions but have lost almost everything else.
He tells us that he and Jamal have eight grown-up children, six girls and two boys. Some now live overseas in America and Germany, but before this summer they were happy to live out their days in Mosul, content to stay in their beloved Iraq.

“We are alright here but it is our wish to return to Mosul, to my house, my community, my church, very soon. I want to be buried in my home town, and not to die in this strange city,” said Samir.

He added that he wished the Islamic culture was as tolerant of other religions as Christian cultures were.

“In Europe and America, people of other faiths are welcomed and allowed to worship freely, to practice their own religion without fear. This is not the case in this region. Minorities are treated very badly,” he said.

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