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End the horror in Iraq

8 August 2014 - Christian Aid is horrified by the terrifying situation in northern Iraq where hundreds of thousands of people have fled their homes in fear of their lives in the last few days due to the advance of IS (Islamic State) forces. Many of them are persecuted religious minorities, including Yazidis and Christians.

Janet Symes, head of Middle East at Christian Aid, said: “The situation across parts of Iraq and the plight of persecuted minorities is horrific. The magnitude at which Islamic State militants are operating at is absolutely terrifying and we deplore their actions in the deliberate targeting of civilians. 

“We are appealing for the protection of all people, including persecuted religious minorities such as the Yazidis and Christians – hundreds of thousands of whom have fled in fear of their lives. What is happening in Iraq is beyond comprehension.

“Our partners on the ground are working around the clock, despite the very real fears that they themselves have, to provide desperately needed humanitarian assistance to thousands of vulnerable people who have been displaced.

"This is in addition to their ongoing efforts to support Syrian refugees who have fled the ongoing conflict there. Our partners are operating in unimaginable conditions to bring some relief to those who are suffering.

“We call for an urgent humanitarian response and join the World Council of Churches appeal to the United Nations ‘to ensure the rights, dignity and physical survival of the diverse peoples of Iraq and its neighbours.’                      

“We also endorse comments made by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, today that ‘What we are seeing in Iraq violates brutally people’s rights to freedom of religion and belief, as set out under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is extremely important that aid efforts are supported and that those who have been displaced are able to find safety.’ 

“We welcome the UN Security Council’s condemnation of these attacks and join them in welcoming the recent efforts of the UN and Government of Iraq in addressing the urgent humanitarian needs of those displaced, but more must be done and the international community must join together to provide urgent humanitarian assistance, and ensure the protection of all civilians.”


Christian Aid partner organisations have reported that people who are stranded on the mountains have been reduced to eating leaves from the trees for their survival. As the fighting gets nearer, those who had sought refuge in camps are once again on the move in search of safety.

Hero Anwar from our partner REACH said today: “We call on NGOs and the international community to bring immediate humanitarian assistance to the people trapped on the Shangal Mountains.”

REACH has distributed non-food items, such as hygiene kits, to families who have just arrived in the northern city of Sulaymaniyah, having fled their homes, leaving everything behind.

Our partners also continue to support displaced communities in Sinjar, Dohuk, Kirkuk, Karbala and Sulaymaniyah, with food baskets containing items such as rice and cooking oil, as well as children’s clothes and hygiene kits. This work has so far been made possible thanks to our Iraq Crisis Appeal.

This latest crisis occurs against a background of escalating conflict, with more than one million people having already fled their homes in recent months. In addition to such large numbers of internally displaced people, northern Iraq continues to host in excess of two hundred thousand refugees from the conflict in neighbouring Syria. 

Christian Aid stands against all forms of discrimination and believes all groups must be accorded their full rights, including freedom of religion.

We respond on the basis of need, and work with and for people of all faiths and none.

For further information please contact Rachel Baird on 0207 523 2446 or call the 24 hour press duty phone – 07850 242950    

Notes to editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change www.christianaid.org.uk/images/partnership-for-change-summary.pdf explains how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk

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