Responding ecumenically to crisis in Iraq

Posted Aug 19, 2014

[Episcopal Relief & Development press release] Episcopal Relief & Development is responding ecumenically to the current crisis in Iraq through the ACT Alliance, in support of Christian Aid UK’s relief activities.

ACT Alliance is a coalition of more than 140 churches and affiliated organizations active in over 140 countries.  In an update, the organization noted that implementing member Christian Aid has been responding to the Syrian refugee crisis since 2012, and recently expanded its operations to provide relief to Iraqis displaced by violence.

According to the Christian Aid situation report, “In recent weeks, attacks by [Islamic State militants] in the Ninewa province of Iraq have led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.  Many of them are persecuted religious minorities, including Yazidis and Christians.”

Christian Aid is currently acting through local partners including REACH (Rehabilitation, Education and Community Health) to distribute food, hygiene kits and other necessities such as children’s clothes to families who have fled active conflict zones in the northern mountains.  This most recent wave of internally displaced people (IDPs) have taken refuge in towns from Dahuk to Suleymaniyah and as far south as Diyala Province and Karbala.

UN OCHA stated that more than 1.2 million people have been displaced since the beginning of 2014.  UNHCR estimates that 700,000 people are taking refuge in the Kurdistan region, including 400,000 in Dahuk Governorate alone.

The humanitarian crisis in Iraq encompasses an additional 1 million Iraqis who were already internally displaced by conflict as of December 2013, and over 200,000 Syrian refugees residing in the country as well.

On August 12, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori issued a call for a day of prayer for Iraq on August 17.  The following day, the Anglican Alliance posted an article with excerpts of statements from Anglican Primates and Church-affiliated aid agencies around the world in response to the crisis.

“We face the reality that hundreds of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities are currently on the run throughout northern and western Iraq, displaced from their homes, with only the clothes on their backs,” said the Rev. Canon Robert D. Edmunds, Middle East Partnership Officer for The Episcopal Church.  “Each of us has an opportunity to bring needed relief and hope to them with our prayers and our contributions. We are grateful for Episcopal Relief & Development and the relationship that has been forged with sister aid agencies.”

Christian Aid provides helpful prayers and other worship resources to rally and express care and concern for those affected by the worsening situation in Iraq.

God of refuge and strength,
We pray for all those escaping fighting, seeking safety in northern Iraq.
Those half a million people who are now on the move and
those 220,000 Syrian refugees already there.
May you be a very present help in their trouble.
Help through the provision of resources so needs are met.
Help through food, water, hygiene and sanitation kits.
Help so this ‘crisis on top of a crisis’ would not reach breaking point.
May those who are left with nothing
Know that they are not forgotten.
May they once again be able to fear less.

Please pray for those impacted by the crisis in Iraq and the surrounding region, and those ministering to their humanitarian needs.

To enable Episcopal Relief & Development to provide disaster assistance in Iraq and other places where help is most needed, please contribute to the Disaster Response Fund.