The 3-year-old Syrian War has spilled over into Iraq, completely destabilizing the region. ISIS, an extremely violent and blood-thirsty off-shoot of Al Qaeda overthrew Mosul just a week ago and has continued to take city after city on their march toward Baghdad. Their aim is to create an extreme Islamic state and draw a new border that encompasses much of central Syria and Iraq. What is troubling is that they might just accomplish their goal.
ISIS has been controlling large parts of Syria for nearly a year. Just last fall they took control of entire cities in Syria, bringing them under extreme Islamic rule. As their black flags waive over cities, they have instated public torture, beheading, and other extreme forms of oppression. Women’s rights have vanished, and children are forced to study, being brainwashed into believing Islamic extremism is God’s plan.
ISIS is funded by selling oil from refineries captured in the Syrian war, back to the Syrian government as well as to “bootleggers” who export it through Turkey. They also control “checkpoints” in and out of towns and cities, charging a tax for those who pass through. Finally, they extort money by capturing foreign journalists and demanding ransom.
Apparently business is good because they have funded the expansion of their operations into neighboring Iraq. Their battle-hardened fighters are better equipped and trained than the Iraqi military, who has in large part, laid down arms and seceded territory.
As we have seen in Syria, the civilians are caught in the crossfire. This is no longer a Syrian refugee crisis; it is a Middle Eastern refugee crisis.
Over 100,000 refugees from Mosul and other towns crossed into Kurdistan in less than 48 hours. These people are existing in the desert, with makeshift tents, in 110-degree heat. Poisonous snakes and scorpions are rampant in these parts and are wreaking havoc. Refugees literally have nowhere to go.
The Peshmerga, Kurdish fighters, have moved into a “no contest zone” between Mosul and Kurdistan, to protect these refugees from ISIS, many of whom are ethnic Christian. But protection does not equate to provision.
High-ranking government officials in Kurdistan have confidentially stated that they feel this is just the beginning of a complete destabilization of the region. We are at the tip of the iceberg of what could transpire within the Middle East. They are preparing for a major Middle East crisis that they say will not end any time soon.
The first refugee camp for Iraqi refugees is being constructed as I write this and will house 3,500 new refugees. Jason Law and our team in Iraq have the opportunity to visit the site this week and see the tents being erected.
The UN is coming in to provide tents, and the Kurdish government is working to install latrines and electricity, as well as some water service. But this takes time.
Today there is a list of “emergency items” that these refugees need. These people need cots to get them off the ground and away from the snakes and scorpions. They need bottled water to drink, as well as food, basic cooking supplies, and a water cooler to take the edge off the oppressive 110-degree desert heat.
World Compassion is working today to source these items in the country for rapid distribution. You can help to provide emergency items to refugees by donating to our Refugee Relief Fund.
As the need grows, the opportunity to spread the gospel becomes greater. Today we must respond and lead the way for relief.