As the crisis in the Middle East continues on, the numbers of those displaced by ISIS grows every day. Currently over 3.3 million people in Iraq have been forced to leave their homes, possessions, and, sometimes, family members behind as they have fled ISIS.
Many people running for their lives have made their way to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Human settlement there can be dated back to 5000 B.C.; it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited areas in the world. The ancient citadel at the city’s center is on the World Heritage list.
One mother recounts how they had to leave their father and husband behind in Mosul, which is 85 kilometers (52 miles) away from Erbil. “They were very close to us, and we knew they would kill us, so we needed to escape. We went to the main road. A good person stopped his car. We said we didn’t have any men with us. He told us to get in. … I am very sad for my husband. How can we live without him? We just received the news that someone killed him. We don’t know who.”
Another woman describes her escape: “We escaped from ISIS. They were about 10 minutes away from us. We left our homes. I was pregnant with two little children, and I had no help with them.”
Rather than being overwhelmed by the influx of these displaced into their community, a trio of siblings—a sister and two brothers—realized they could make a difference and invited these families into their two side-by-side homes. At first only a few families took shelter; today 23 families live there. One of the brothers has said, “They can stay in our homes as long as they need to.”
Only a few family members have been able to find employment in Erbil, so they need ongoing help with food, commodities, clothing, and medical care. LDS Charities became aware, through one of its humanitarian partners working in Iraq, of these needs and has been helping to provide for these families. “I just want to be there for them, to help them, to serve them in any way I can,” says the sister, who although not a Christian, is following the admonition of Jesus Christ by caring for the ‘stranger.’
Having this safe haven has made all the difference to these mothers, fathers, and children who all want to go back home.
There may be refugees in your own community who could use your helping hands. Check out our blog post “40 Ways to Help Refugees in Your Community” to find out what you can do right now to help.