By Jeremy Reynalds
Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
Manara Ministries is the ministry overseeing the Religious Freedom Coalition Christmas For Refugees program in the Middle East. RFC Chairman William J. Murray is currently in Lebanon working with Manara to provide a Christmas meal for hundreds of refugee children – children displaced by Islamic terrorists – like those barbarians who killed 132 children in Pakistan yesterday.
AUSTIN, TEXAS (ANS) — Difficult, and in some cases tragic, conditions face Iraqi refugees fleeing the terrors of ISIS.
According to a news release from Hope Builders International, its partner Manara Ministries President Isam Ghattas returned recently from a trip to assess conditions of the Christian community in Erbil, northern Iraq.
Jordan- based Manara Ministries is an evangelical relief and development agency.
Ghattas said while he had followed events in the region closely, nothing could have prepared him for the hopelessness he found when he saw it in person. “It was very tough to handle.”
Trip to Erbil, Iraq
Ghattas said the streets of Kurdistan’s largest city are lined with children begging for money, for food, for anything that will ease their suffering. Displaced families are everywhere; in tents, churches and unfinished buildings.
Ghattas said he saw 1,000 people packed into one unfinished building in a mall. There was no flooring, and no privacy. Makeshift wooden dividers separated families.
“Living in a construction site, many suffer from sinus infections and skin and eye problems. They have nothing. They share a tank of gas to cook their meager meals. They are all well educated and had built lives for themselves and their families. Now they have nothing,” Ghattas said..
He added, “Two little girls-sisters, seven and 11 years old, watched in terror as ISIS slaughtered their parents. Now, they hold each other and cry inconsolably. Who will care for them now? This is only one of countless stories of horror and suffering.”
The Mobile Clinic Project
With so many desperate refugees, Ghattas said much more medical care is needed.
He said the ministry was able to buy and refurnish a mobile clinic to provide free medical services.
Ghattas added, “Each new clinic would have cost about $225,000; but we were able to find a used clinic and refurnish it with all it needs for $50,000. A doctor from Iraq has (agreed) to staff it and help.”
Ghattas said while the ministry has supplied the clinic with two air conditioners and medical equipment, there is still a great need for medicine. Each mobile clinic will have a small reception area, a doctor’s room, an X-ray room, a laboratory, a dental clinic and a pharmacy.
Trip To Bandewya
Ghattas and his team next traveled to Bandewya, a village just a few miles from ISIS, on the other side of the Mosul dam. He said that a security car drove next to them, and an additional vehicle in case there was a problem with the one they were using.
He added, “We were always in touch with the head security office in Erbil, and we had orders to be back in Erbil before sunset. It was a dangerous, six hour drive.”
Bandewyaa a Christian community, has a population of about 800.
Ghattas said, “Many people from Mosul ran away to this village for protection from ISIS. We arrived with two trucks filled with basic necessities. We were able to distribute mattresses, warm covers for winter, food parcels, and heaters. Soon the snows will come, threatening the lives of those who are not equipped to survive.”
Ghattas said the families were very appreciative for the supplies, as no one had tried to help them before.
He said, “They understood the risks we took to get there. They told us they can hear bombs exploding and the crack of rifle fire from the valley below and said they will have to flee to Erbil soon, because ISIS is getting closer.”
Ghattas is also helping refugees streaming out of Syria into Jordan.