To mark 50 years of Tearfund, we’re sharing about 50 countries where we’ve worked, celebrating God’s provision and power to transform, and praying for each of these nations. This week we’re in Iraq.
Iraq is a diverse nation in the heart of the Middle East, with a population of 37 million. Tearfund began working in Iraq following the First Gulf War in 1991. Throughout both Gulf wars, Tearfund was engaged in supporting local partners in the region of Kurdistan.
Since the start of the current conflict in summer 2014, Tearfund has been responding to the physical and psychological needs of those whose lives have been devastated. An estimated 8.7 million people are in need.
Around 1.5 million people are internally displaced in Iraq. Many are living in tents and unfinished buildings in extreme temperatures – very hot in the summer months and freezing in the winter. Many people, like Marteen and Vanteen*, have experienced unthinkable trauma.
Marteen and Vanteen have five children; the oldest being seven and the youngest one month old. Before 2014, they had a house, and Marteen was a driver, and, as he puts it, ‘making a living from working a real job’.
Marteen and Vanteen had hopes, dreams and happiness, which they describe as being stolen from them:
‘One day, we heard on the television news that ISIS had entered Iraq and we were afraid. In June 2014, they entered the city of Mosul; and were killing innocent people. We had relatives inside the city who fled to join us; but two months later, they [ISIS] entered the district of Sinjar. We received news that our village would be taken and so we left.
‘We fled to Erbil, but after three months we had no money left and had no choice but to move into a camp. We lived in this camp for three years. In 2017, we were able to move back to our village together with around 50 other families. We lived in a relative’s house as our house was destroyed. At that time there was no electricity and water, no health services, and there was no help. It was hard to stay there.’
Tearfund came to the couple’s village to build latrines and improve access to safe drinking water. We were also able to distribute cash for the most vulnerable members of the community – including Marteen and his family.
‘We were able to open a small shop selling groceries with this money, and we can earn a monthly income while we rebuild,’ Marteen tells us. ‘We thank you very much and hope that our voices will reach all the world and all the donors. We wish all the donors success with their wonderful work.’
Tearfund works with other international agencies and local government to identify and support the most vulnerable. This close cooperation allows us to respond effectively to the large-scale humanitarian need.
While much of the current work addresses urgent needs, we are also supporting activities that will have a significant longer-term impact for the people of Iraq, including peace building initiatives and the creation of sustainable livelihoods.
- Pray for peace across the country.
- Ask God to bring comfort and hope among those who have been displaced and have lost their homes, businesses, communities and families.
- Pray for physical and emotional healing for those affected by the conflict.
*Names changed to protect identities
If you'd like to know more please visit our Iraq page. And if you've missed any other articles in this series you can find them here.