MCC reaches out to Iraqis displaced by armed conflict

MCC urging people to call on U.S. lawmakers to oppose military intervention in Iraq

Jun 25, 2014 by

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As armed conflict forces Iraqis from their homes, Mennonite Central Committee is providing vital items for daily life and is planning with partner organizations for an ongoing response.

Mohamed Abu Jasem, left, Hussam Abdullah and other volunteers with MCC Iraq partner Al Amal (The Hope) load a truck June 12 in Bashiqa with food and water to be distributed there and in other villages in Nineveh Province. — Yazidi Solidarity Association

Mohamed Abu Jasem, left, Hussam Abdullah and other volunteers with MCC Iraq partner Al Amal (The Hope) load a truck June 12 in Bashiqa with food and water to be distributed there and in other villages in Nineveh Province. — Yazidi Solidarity Association

MCC also is calling on U.S. lawmakers to oppose military intervention in Iraq and instead to send humanitarian aid for the U.N.-estimated 1.9 million internally displaced people, or IDPs, in the country.

After the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) took over the city of Mosul on June 11, more than 300,000 residents fled into nearby villages and to the Kurdish area of Iraq, where MCC workers Deborah and James Fine live and work. The Fines are from Bristol, Pa.

One MCC partner, Al Amal (The Hope), which has peacebuilding and community improvement projects near Mosul, already is providing food and water to IDPs, supported by MCC funds. Water and electricity are cut off in many of the villages, making coping difficult for both the IDPs and the host families that have welcomed them.

The Fines, the only MCCers in Iraq, are in Erbil, about 60 miles east of Mosul. Their work now includes planning MCC’s emergency response with partner organizations in Nineveh Province, where Mosul is located; and the short-term Summer Intensive English program, which brings teachers to a program of Chaldean Archdiocese of Erbil, a Christian partner.

People can help Iraqis through MCC by meeting critical needs for relief kits and hygiene kits, financially supporting the response and MCC’s work in Iraq, and sending letters to lawmakers calling for peaceful response in Iraq.

Relief and hygiene kits help people who have fled their homes because of war and disaster keep clean and healthy. More information is available at mcc.org or by contacting an MCC office. MCC hopes to send 12,000 hygiene kits and 3,000 relief kits, the equivalent of two shipping containers, to uprooted Iraqis and others in the region.

MCC sent more than 57,000 of these kits last year, including to people in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan displaced by the Syrian war.

MCC’s ongoing work

Gordon Epp-Fransen, an MCC program leader in the region, notes that while the U.S. military appears to be renewing engagement in Iraq, MCC already is there and meeting the needs of people displaced by conflict both in Iraq and in nearby countries.

“The same day that President Obama announced the introduction of 300 military personnel into Iraq, five teachers from the U.S. and Canada flew into Iraq to serve with MCC’s short-term Intensive English Program, one of the ways we support Iraqi Christians, many of whom have been displaced or traumatized by earlier conflicts,” he said.

“We will continue to work with long-term partners to determine how MCC can be of immediate assistance to the thousands of recently displaced persons.”

Carolyne and Gordon Epp-Fransen are MCC representatives for Iraq, Iran and Jordan, and live in Amman, Jordan. They are from Winnipeg, Man.


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