Iraq (MNN) – Iraq’s effort to recapture the ISIS stronghold of Fallujah has begun in earnest. Coalition military forces have begun to pound the city from the ground and the air.
Despite the best efforts of the government to guarantee safe passage, there are mounting concerns that the extremists will use the remaining residents as human shields or worse.
In the ‘calm before the storm’, Iraq’s military tried to assure safe passage to those who wanted to flee. But, says Amie Cotton, a spokeswoman for Christian Aid Mission, “Our concern is how these families that are stuck in the chaos are going to flee, because there’s really nowhere to go.”
The ministries supported by Christian Aid want to aid the civilians who want to flee but, “We don’t have any ministries that are actively working in Fallujah because it is such a dangerous place. They don’t have access to get in because that area is ISIS controlled.”
When asked about a new wave of refugees, she noted that although there are large groups of Iraqi refugees living primarily in Iran, Jordan and Turkey, getting to these countries becomes the challenge. Fallujah is in the middle of Iraq.
Cotton explains, “There are not a lot of camps around and it’s hard for these ministries that are in Kurdistan, it’s hard for the civilians to actually get there because the trek there is going to be so difficult because that whole region is ISIS controlled.”
The ministry continues to provide aid to displaced people they CAN reach. First, “They’re giving out mattresses, food, water, beans, rice, just basic staple items– diapers, formula because there are a lot of families, there are a lot of children in this region.” Because ministry members show the love of Christ by meeting physical needs, the door opens for relationship. Only later do they bring Bibles.
In an earlier writing, “We just help because we love them, and maybe the next time we visit we tell them about Jesus and give them Bibles,” noted the director of a ministry based in Kurdistan. “We believe in the power of the Word of God. We don’t have many preachers. We don’t have many missionaries, but we have the Word of God that we’re able to print, purchase and deliver to the people and their children.”
What help for those trapped in Fallujah?
Cotton says, “Pray for the safety of the civilians. These are families that don’t know where their next meal is coming from. They don’t know where their family members are. They’ve been separated; they’re displaced. They’re just trying to make it through their day. Yes, they can flee Fallujah, but there really isn’t anywhere to go.”