Dear Friends and Partners, We are writing to follow up on the previous two Action Alerts, in which we updated you on the situation in Iraq and advised you of an upcoming mission to assess the situation on the ground and to give the refugees a concrete demonstration of our support.
We are pleased to be able to share the good news that Rev. El Shafie has returned safely from a trip to Northern Iraq along with an OFWI-led delegation. The delegation included three Honourable Canadian Members of Parliament: Mr. Brad Butt, (Mississauga-Streetsville); Mr. Russ Hiebert (South Surrey - White Rock - Cloverdale); and Mr. Leon Benoit (Vegreville-Wainwright). The three Members of Parliament participated in the capacity of observers. Also joining the delegation were Pastor Dean Curry, from Tacoma, Washington, USA; and Pastor Hany Boghossian, from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
OFWI has travelled to Northern Iraq in order to stand with the minorities who continue to be targeted in the brutal campaign of violence by ‘ISIS’ (more recently ‘IS’). The OFWI delegation visited several refugee camps in the Kurdistan Region of Northern Iraq, where minorities have fled the advance of ISIS with little more than the clothes on their back.
The OFWI delegation witnessed unspeakable pain and suffering among the refugees from the Christian, Yazidi, and other minority communities. The delegation spoke with children who had lost their parents; husbands who had lost their wives and daughters; families whose loved ones were missing and presumed captured by ISIS. OFWI’s conversations with refugees on the ground confirmed the reports we had shared with you in our earlier Alerts of the horrific savagery of the IS fighters. Children are being butchered, women raped and killed, men hanged or crucified. OFWI spoke to victims of the widespread sexual violence against minority women and girls. OFWI spoke to families where women and girls (some as young as two and a half years old) were taken from their family and abused by IS fighters. OFWI also heard reports of minority women and girls being sold as slaves – at times for as little as 20 USD each!
While space does not allow us to tell the stories of all the refugees OFWI spoke to in the camps, we want to share with you the story of a young girl named Rahma (see photo). Rahma is six years old, and lives in a small tent in a refugee camp that houses over 500 children under the age of 3. Rahma lost both of her parents in the massacres in Mosul. Even as Rahma spoke with Rev. El Shafie, the fear and pain were palpable and heartbreaking.
The refugees in Northern Iraq are in desperate need of immediate assistance. According to one Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) official, there are at least 1.6 million IDPs in the Kurdistan region. Approximately 90,000 families of refugees (approximately 700,000 people) have sought refuge refuge in the city of Duhok alone since the start of the ISIS crisis – 250,000 of whom arrived on the same day.
The OFWI delegation met with leaders of the Christian and Yazidi communities in order to show them we are standing with them and to hear what their most urgent needs are in this time of crisis.
The OFWI delegation also met with officials from the KRG in order to demonstrate our commitment to stand with the Iraqi people in this time of crisis and to determine the most immediate needs that the international community can help address. OFWI emphasized to KRG officials the importance of ensuring that minorities are protected and not left behind during this crisis.
The sheer volume of refugees has overwhelmed the resources of the KRG. Refugees have urgent need of all the basic necessities of life – clean water, food, and shelter. KRG health officials also reported to OFWI that there is a desperate shortage of medication to treat the sick and wounded.
More fundamentally, the displaced minorities need security. OFWI calls on the international community to urgently provide military aid to the local forces fighting to secure the areas overrun by IS. In the interim, the international community also has a responsibility to help resettle refugees that have no prospect of returning home in the foreseeable future.
The situation is all the more urgent due to the fact that winter is only about six weeks away. Contrary to popular perception, winter nights in Iraq (particularly in the north) are bitterly cold. Many of the refugees, who left with nothing but the clothes on their back, are living in hastily assembled outdoor tent camps or in abandoned or unfinished office buildings and warehouses. In our meetings with government officials, we discussed several projects that will provide the urgent assistance the refugees need to deal with the upcoming winter.
OFWI commends the KRG for its efforts to provide for the needs of the refugees, but this humanitarian crisis is too vast for the KRG to face on its own. OFWI thanks the Canadian and U.S. governments for their support of displaced minorities through both military and humanitarian aid. However, much more is needed – and it is needed now. OFWI calls on the international community to take urgent steps to address the needs of the minority refugees in Northern Iraq.
OFWI will not leave these refugees behind. It is in times of crisis that one discovers who their friends truly are. OFWI travelled to Iraq in a time of crisis to show that we are standing with the minorities and that we will help make their voices heard to the world.
The minorities in Iraq are facing what can only be described as the beginning of a genocide. IS forces are systematically eliminating all minorities from the areas under their control – whether by expulsion, forced conversion, slavery, or killing. If the international community does not take action immediately, there is no future for minorities in Iraq.
As we shared with your previously, 40 members of the OFWI team are currently working on the grounds in Kurdistan and Mosul.
Thank you to all who supported our mission to Iraq – but this is just the beginning. The need is overwhelming, and the time to act is now. We urgently need your help and support as we stand with the minorities in Iraq. Your urgent action is needed through prayer and financial contributions to these efforts.
• for the Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities fleeing the violence and threats in Iraq – pray for protection, provision, and miraculous interventions to guide them to safety;
• for the displaced refugees living in desperate conditions in refugee camps – pray for strength, healing, protection, and the provision of their basic needs;
• for peace in Iraq and for extremist ideologies and activities like those of ISIS to be turned back and defeated and for peace, justice, equality, and religious freedom to rule for all Iraqi people;
• for moral clarity, strength, and courage for our political leaders to do the right thing and step up to rescue the minorities of Iraq; and,
• for the follow-up projects initiated during OFWI’s mission to Iraq – for provision, protection, guidance, and wisdom in how we can direct our support to touch and save the most lives.
The Bible teaches that faith without action is dead, so please take action urgently and write (contact details are included below):
• to your prime minister and foreign minister or president and secretary of state, demanding that our leaders take immediate action to protect the refugees, provide them asylum, and do everything in their power to eradicate ISIS and rebuild Iraq to a place that the minority refugees can return to in peace and call home; in order to ensure success, they must hold Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait accountable for their support of ISIS, whether it is direct or indirect;
• to the ambassadors for Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait in your country, demanding that they stop supporting IS either directly or indirectly and making sure that they know we are watching and that they cannot hide their actions; and,
• please also show your concrete support by donating to OFWI’s ongoing operation in Iraq. Our trip was just the first step. The need is overwhelming, and funds are needed urgently to help provide shelter for refugees as winter approaches. Above all, please PRAY for this operation and for the Christians in northern Iraq and, if you are able to lend your financial support, send your donation urgently to the following coordinates or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to make your contribution:
One Free World International 20 Bloor Street East, Box 75129 Toronto, ON M4W 3T3
Or Direct Deposit to:
Bank: TD Canada Trust Address: Danforth and Broadview 807 Broadview Avenue Toronto, Ontario M4K 2P8 Institution Code: 004 Transit Number: 12492 Account Number: 1249 004 5002036 (Canadian deposits); 1249 004 7200215 (U.S. dollar deposits) Swift: TDOMCATTTOR
Please remember to send us a copy of your correspondence at:
Remember that the persecuted Christians are dying every day, but they are still smiling. They are in a very deep dark night, but they have the candle of the Lord. The enemy can have a very strong weapon and a very strong army, but we have the Lord Almighty.
"They can kill the dreamer, but they cannot kill the dream" in the Lord’s name.
Be with God and may God be with you.
One Free World International El Shafie Ministries
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