ICC Note: Christians living in refugee camps in Iraq don’t live, they survive. Though the government continuously gives empty promises of help, the people only have what NGOs and the church provides them with. There is a refugee crisis in Kurdistan right now. The number of refugees in Kurdish territory number about 1.2 million, and more than 3 million countrywide. As ISIS continues its campaign of terror, that number continues to rise.
07-22-2015 Kurdistan (Rudaw): Marolin Sabri is angry. The 28-year-old mother of three says she is sick and tired of local officials who have made promises to her community of Assyrian Christian refugees that nestles together in a former church in Kirkuk.
“I have to laugh. So many people have come from the government saying they will help us, but we are only surviving on the help from NGOs and the church,” she said.
Sabri is one of thousands of Christian refugees who were brutally driven from their homes by the Islamic State, or ISIS, and sought safety in cities and towns across the Kurdistan region. Sabri’s home town of Bartella is still held by ISIS, and she wonders if she’ll ever return.
Her frustration is common among displaced Christians, many of whom share the same everyday worries and deep fears for the future of their families.
“Our kids keep asking, ‘When will we go home? It is like a prison for them,” Sabri told Rudaw.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) reports that 1,160,000 internally displaced Iraqis had arrived in Erbil by June. Life for Christian refugees in overcrowded Ainkawa is little better than in Kirkuk.
Anoutha Ishak is among hundreds of Christian women who spend their lives in Mar Eillia Church at the heart of the Christian neighborhood.
“We became depressed and psychologically unwell,” Ishak said. “I was a nurse. I left my job, my belongings, my house, and all our money. Of course after we came here our life changed.”
Christians are among the many minorities and Kurds who have flooded the region. The government says all groups have been treated equally.
“We are dealing with refugee issues—Arabs, Christians, Yezidis, and all other minorities—without any discrimination. For those who are living in the Kurdistan region, we are trying to help them stay inside the country,” said Shakir Yasseen, general director of the KRG’s Bureau of Migration and Displacement.