Published: 10:00 GMT Standard Time - Monday 28 November 2011
Barnabas feeding programmes continue despite Middle East unrest
As the Middle East is rocked by political unrest and violence, Barnabas Fund’s feeding programmes for needy Iraqi Christians, both in their homeland and neighbouring countries, continue unabated.
Thousands of Christian families are sustained by the food parcels
We have been providing monthly food packages to Christians in Iraq as well as Iraqi Christian refugees in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon since 2003. And despite the present turmoil in those lands, particularly Syria, this support for thousands of Christian families has been unaffected.
Ongoing anti-Christian violence in Iraq continues to force many Christian families to consider leaving their homes and heading for Syria, which has a long history of welcoming Christian refugees. But the unrest there, in which at least 3,500 people have been killed in the protests against President Bashar al-Assad, is making them uncertain about the move.
And there are concerns about the future for Christians in Syria if the Assad regime, which has held Islamists in check and afforded Christians a considerable degree of religious freedom, falls.
A Syrian church leader who coordinates a number of the food programmes supported by Barnabas Fund said:
Most of the Iraqi Christians living in Syria are worried because they do not want to see Syrian Christians passing through the same path as happened with them in Iraq. They are lifting their prayers for a safe and secure Syria and for it [to] continue to be a safe haven.
Christians who flee Iraq leave behind property, possessions and work, leaving them without the resources to provide food and other basic needs for their families.
One of the youngest recipients of the food aid from Barnabas is a baby girl called “Hanne”, whose mother died when she was just three months old. Her father, “Arkan”, receives milk powder in the food package that he collects every month from his church in Syria. He left Iraq following the death of his wife, whose health deteriorated when she became disturbed and traumatised from hearing bombs and gun shots all around her.
A widow who was forced to flee Iraq with her two daughters following the kidnap and death of her husband is also receiving help from Barnabas’ feeding programme. A month after their devastating loss, she received a threatening phone call in which she was told:
Don’t ever speak about the incident and leave this country. It belongs to Muslims. Otherwise you and your daughters will face the same destiny. Either turn to Islam or pay a sum every month for our great religion.
They escaped to Syria, where they were in great need. The mother had used all of their belongings to pay a ransom to her husband’s kidnappers, – only for his body to turn up two days later in a hospital morgue.
This is an all too familiar story from Iraq, where Christians are frequently targeted by kidnappers. They are also subjected to bombings and other targeted killings.
More funds are urgently needed to help feed Iraqi Christians both in their homeland and in neighbouring countries.
If you prefer to telephone, dial: 0800 587 4006 from within the UK or +44 1672 565031 from outside the UK. Please quote either Iraq – Feeding Christian Families project (20-246) or Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan – Feeding programme project (20-383).
If you prefer to send a cheque by post: Click this link for the address of our regional office. Please quote either Iraq – Feeding Christian Families project (20-246) or Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan – Feeding programme project (20-383).
For a quick donation of £3.00 by SMS (see terms and conditions here) text Barnabas/246 or Barnabas/383 to 70007 (Please note: This facility is presently only available to UK supporters).
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