Dorcas’ country director in Iraq shares some recent experiences:
Thousands of Yazidis live in unfinished buildings. Rejected from the areas surrounding Mount Sinjar where they used to live, they sit in the open air, in dark spaces, with limited water supplies and irregular access to electricity. The construction steel rods sticking out of the floors and the many holes in the floors – common in buildings under construction – cause weekly casualties, especially among the elderly, children and disabled people.
Bearers of civilisation
Here you see the many faces of suffering. Not only Yazidis, Christians, too, are increasingly victimised in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq. Their ancient churches were destroyed, their houses annexed and they have been brutally chased out of their towns and villages. Iraqi Christians are traditionally the bearers of intellectual and cultural civilisation. That is why they have been tolerated since the start of the Islamic empire 1,400 years ago. Father Yousif sadly explains how some long-kept treasures of his church in Mosul were lost: a seventh century manuscript and a Biblical text. ‘I had wanted to keep those treasures in a museum in Zakho, where the Syrian Catholic church originated,’ he says while tears fill his eyes. But he finds the trauma that the young people are faced with even worse.
Thanks to the compassionate efforts of people in Iraq and abroad, temporary housing for the refugeeshas been set up in gymnasiums, schools and in private homes. But this situation cannot last. Because of the enormity and the seriousness of the situation, it will be impossible for the refugees to return to where they used to live.
Dorcas set up office in Duhok, the region that is harbouring most of the refugees. More than 400,000 people arrived in Duhok within two weeks. Dorcas provides heaters, fuel, carpets and lamps and the holes in the buildings are boarded to keep out the cold.
23 December 2014