Iraq (MNN) — Protests in Iraq are “on hold” for the foreseeable future. Coronavirus closures and curfews are forcing people inside, effectively putting an end to demonstrations. The anti-government movement began in October and quickly became the largest uprising since Saddam Hussein’s fall in 2003.
Samuel with Redemptive Stories says Iraqis now have a bigger problem on their hands.
“Really, it’s like a crisis within another crisis. COVID has only exacerbated some of the already existing economic issues,” he says.
As described here, several factors contribute to Iraq’s perilous condition. The government has been operating in caretaker mode since December. Falling oil prices mean state revenue is down, and the coronavirus pandemic cut tourism income.
“We’re hearing reports [of] families [who] don’t have any food, so they’re relying on their neighbors and the kindness of others in order to provide.”
Desperate times, desperate measures
According to John Hopkins data, there are nearly a half-million coronavirus infections worldwide. More than 20,000 people have died, while over 100,000 recovered. In Iraq, there are nearly 350 cases, 29 deaths, and more than one-hundred recoveries.
However, those statistics remain fluid. Iraq’s “connectivity with Iran only makes it that much more susceptible to COVID-19 because of the constant influx of humans from both of those countries and the deep relationship that they share,” Samuel says.
Additionally, many impoverished Iraqis see no other option. Despite health risks, they continue working so they’ll have money to buy food.
Believers are using this time to demonstrate Christ’s love and care.
“Churches, organizations are working together in a more cohesive way across social media to use that as a tool for outreach,” Samuel says. “Also, churches are giving out food packets for those families that are really struggling.”
How to help
“In Iraq, (pray) that the Church would respond with caring for their neighbors, but then also communicate the overarching message of Jesus’ story and God’s story with love in the midst of these dark times,” Samuel requests.
“Pray that all of us would not push back into our selfishness as human beings, but we would trust God and love our neighbor as ourselves.”
Header image is a computer-generated representation of COVID-19 virions (SARS-CoV-2) under electron microscope. Obtained via Wikimedia Commons.