Refugees Face Huge Food Shortage in Iraq and Syria

Open Doors Launches Campaign to Ramp Up Relief Efforts

Open Doors USA is reporting that refugees who, in the face of persecution by the Islamic State group, have fled to northern Iraq and within Syria are now facing huge food shortages. Approximately 300,000 Christians are experiencing a second obstacle for survival—how to pay for food. Open Doors is launching a campaign to raise the estimated $20 million needed to provide food for refugees during the next 18 months.

It has been a year since the Islamic State group took over Mosul in Iraq. After fleeing the embattled city, many Christians headed north to Kurdistan. Now these refugees are having difficulty accessing food and other necessities such as water and shelter.

In Iraq and Syria, refugees have little means of income or financial resources, have trouble getting work, and are impacted by the government’s trouble. Food is very expensive and many refugees do not have the financial means to buy it. Because they fled Islamic State group on short notice, most left behind their life savings. Often times, anything they brought was confiscated at Islamic State group checkpoints. Refugees are also required to get a visa to work, which is difficult to obtain, and they often do not speak the local language. With the Kurdish government suffering a financial crisis from the stress of an ongoing war and influx of refugees, it is unable to pay government workers or continue to help the refugees. In Syria, employment is especially difficult to come by.

Open Doors has been working with churches in northern Iraq and Syria for nearly 25 years and is committed to staying long term to offer support. The organization is providing emergency food, hygiene kits, medical kits, safe houses, Christian spiritual resources and trauma counseling.  

Working through local partners and churches allows Open Doors to distribute food parcels and hygiene kits. One local priest described the food supplies as a drip feed in intensive care. He said, “What will happen to our people? For sure they will die without this! ” The $50 monthly food kits from Open Doors are a stable provision to provide families with not only resources but also a sense of comfort. Included are items such as rice, oil, sugar, tomato paste, soup, jam, spaghetti or macaroni, canned meat, cheese, tea, and a fluid for washing plates and cups. Without the support of nongovernment organizations like Open Doors, the situation for Christians would be even worse. The churches would have been able to take care of refugees for a short amount of time, but they rely on Open Doors’ help to be able to care for their people long term. As many organizations that responded immediately following the fall of Mosul leave the area, those that remain must do more to fill the gap. Open Doors is asking Christians around the world to partner with them to help provide food to those who are unable to provide it for themselves.

David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, said, “Besides providing basic resources like food and water, we also want these Christian refugees to know that they are not forgotten. As they watch other organizations leave the area, we want them to know that Open Doors is praying for them and committed to staying for the long run.”

For more information about how to help these Christians, visit OpenDoorsUSA.org.

About Open Doors USA

For 60 years, Open Doors USA has worked in the world's most oppressive and restrictive countries for Christians. Open Doors works to equip and encourage Christians living in dangerous circumstances with the threat of persecution and equips the Western church to advocate for the persecuted. For more information, visit OpenDoorsUSA.org.

-30-