After being driven from their homes and stripped of all of their possessions by the Islamic State, refugees in northern Iraq and Syria are now facing yet another plight: food shortages.
Open Doors USA, an organization that works to stem Christian persecution across the globe, announced this week that 300,000 Christians are struggling for survival, as food is scarce. The group is hoping to raise $20 million to help these individuals over the next 18 months, with CEO David Curry telling TheBlaze that his organization has already assisted 15,000 families since the rise of the Islamic State.
"Failure isn’t an option. We have to continue to work to help people realize what has happened and is happening to Christians in the region," he said of the necessity to raise the monies needed to help sustain these refugees. "In reality, the situation could worsen and the human tragedy could bring down the remaining stable governments in the region."
AP Photo/Nasser Nasser
Curry said that Open Doors USA has been working in Iraq for 25 years and, despite the fact that some groups are pulling out of the region, he said that his organization plans to be there for "the long haul."
"As aid has dwindled since the spring we are planning to feed thousands more for the near future," he said.
Curry explained that Christians in the region one day hope to return to their homes and communities to rebuild what they once had — a prospect that, at least for the moment, seems impossible.
"The goal of ISIS is the elimination of the Christian faith, not just in the region but everywhere. They’ve told the world this, and we must believe them," Curry said. "Christians have been pushed out of this region and if we don’t support those that have been displaced then it certainly gives the impression that ISIS was correct: that western governments don’t care about Christian minorities in the Middle East."
As many refugees still remain in refugees camps one year after Mosul was captured by the radical terror group, the nonprofit leader said that he hopes that Christians in the U.S. will help those who have been displaced.
One of the dynamics impacting the food shortage, Curry said, is that some groups budgeted and planned for the conflict to end quickly, though the reality is that the Islamic State continues to hold ground. Some relief groups simply don't have enough resources to continue helping.
"The reality on the ground is that many people in the camps have lost everything, lack work to support themselves and buy food, and either wish to remain in their homeland or have been rejected for immigration," he said. "It’s a crisis on the ground right now as people get more hungry and desperate."
Open Doors USA
Despite the immense pain and suffering, Curry said that he's given hope by seeing people carry on in the camps with normal life, having babies, celebrating birthdays and keeping brave faces, despite their struggles.
Find out more about Open Doors USA here.