Charmaine Hedding vividly recalls media coverage of Islamic State militants bringing their bloodthirst to the Nineveh Plain of Iraq in August 2014. Christians whose families had lived for two millennia in that region fled in droves. Those who couldn’t flee were executed or enslaved. Nonconforming Muslims suffered similar fates.
Entire towns and villages were deserted as Christians moved to safer regions hundreds of miles from the scourge of ISIS.
Earlier this month, Shai Fund went in to Turkey and Iraq to investigate the needs of Christian refugees who have fled Iraq and Syria, and to deliver aid to those Christians still displaced in Northern Iraq and Northern Syria.
They were all around 75 years old. One could not talk at all. They were left behind as they could not even walk, let alone run from ISIS. One told his family to leave, as he could not make the trip from Mosul to Erbil. So they left him in Mosul. Even those families that thought they could leave with their cars, money, and passports were caught at the checkpoint.
It’s 05:45 o'clock in the morning at the Munich airport. A small team of volunteers meet, their suitcases full of items and clothing for children, and of course full of expectations for the week to come! Within a short time we are sitting in the plane with our course set to Erbil, northern Iraq. High up in the heaven we see the sun rising and everybody feels, this trip is something special.
Kurdistan, December 2014 - Shai Fund sent a team of aid workers and medical doctors into northern Iraq to assist the displaced persons that have fled ISIS. Working mostly in villages and camps with the minority groups from the Assyrian, Chaldean and Yezidi communities, much needed food aid and warm blankets were given out in bleak winter conditions.
The thousands of Christian, Yazidi and other minority groups who fled to Erbil, Kurdistan, to escape the Islamic State (IS/ISIS) are now facing a very different foe in the form of the oncoming winter for which they are ill prepared.
Since August 2013, thousands of Syrian and now Iraqi asylum seekers have arrived in Bulgaria via Turkey. The influx of asylum seekers into Bulgaria has been a challenge to the local authorities, which have never had to absorb such a substantial numbers of asylum seekers.