A United Vision for Northern Iraq
Our work to help Christians in the Kurdistan region of Iraq commenced within weeks of the fall of Mosul to Daesh (Islamic State) in June 2014. The flood of refugees into this region was almost without precedent and UNHCR camps were quickly erected to try and cope with the influx of humanity. While, these camps became the new home for the Yazidi people group, Shia Muslims and a small number of Christians, our distinct call was to assist the large Christian refugee community which had sought shelter across a number of Christian villages in and around the city of Dohuk.
Working with trusted Kurdistan based partners, we commenced our relief effort sending funds to provide food, clothing, shelter, medicines and fuel. This developed into meeting a pressing need for sanitation to help in the villages which were now bursting at the seams, and also the facilitation of medical clinics for the refugees, with volunteers from the UK and beyond working alongside local healthcare professionals.
Now looking to the future (or 'new normal'), we are seeking to address the need for suitable long-term housing for Christians who are unable to return to their former homes on the Nineveh Plain, as well as seeking to develop initiatives that will provide sustainable incomes to Christians who are determined to stay. To this end we have launched projectRECYCLE to compliment our micro-finance initiative which is enabling suitable recipients to build a future free of dependency.
projectRECYCLE is an initiative by Steadfast Global and Northern Iraq based partners, Zalal Life Society to provide a common sense housing solution for Christian families who have been displaced from their homes in Mosul and the disputed Nineveh Plain villages into the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
The initiative helps to address the exodus of Christians from Northern Iraq in the wake of the ISIS insurgency by “recycling” Christian homes which have been abandoned to provide new permanent housing for those Christian families wishing to remain but who are unable or unwilling to return to their original homes and villages on the Nineveh Plain.
Who is involved in the initiative?
Steadfast Global will be working to deliver this initiative in partnership with Zalal Life Society, a Christian ministry holding official registration in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The organisation was constituted and granted its official seal on 23 November 2009. Having excellent relations with local churches both evangelical and traditional, Zalal Life Society is ideally placed to coordinate the allocation of homes to displaced Christian families.
Steadfast Global and Zalal Life Society encourage like-minded individuals, organisations and governments sympathetic to the crisis in this region to embrace this project as it is a viable common-sense and cost-effective solution to stem the haemorrhage of Christians out of Northern Iraq and specifically, the Kurdistan region.
Why is this project important?
Today, the vast majority of Christians remaining in Iraq are located in the Kurdistan Region. While an estimated 25,000 have returned to larger Nineveh Plain settlements like Qaraqosh it is overly-optimistic to think that all of the remaining Christian refugees will follow. They will not.
For the majority of Christians there is a sense of despair and despondency, which for many is leading to a strong desire to leave Iraq for good. Without urgent and meaningful assistance, the Christian community, both traditional and evangelical, faces being wiped out through persecution and emigration.
How will projectRECYCLE work?
Christian families who are currently without permanent housing and unable to secure suitable long-term accommodation, will be given assistance to purchase their own homes through a rent-to-own programme, initially across the western Kurdistan region.
Each beneficiary will enter into a legally binding contract to occupy the allotted house on the basis that they will pay an agreed and affordable monthly rent which will be collected in a fully transparent and accountable way by Steadfast Global partners, Zalal Life Society. Occupants will remain as tenants of their respective property until the cost of purchase has been met. Having paid for their home, legal ownership will then be transferred to the tenant. Monthly payments which are accrued from tenants will be used to purchase additional homes.
Upon termination of projectRECYCLE, funds which were used to purchase homes will be reinvested in infrastructure projects to benefit the Christian communities where families were re-housed. This will most likely take the form of community health/education facilities or community income generation projects.
What are the strengths of this project?
- This is an extremely cost-effective method of re-housing displaced Christians providing a 'win-win' scenario whereby Christians who wish to remain, receive suitable housing within Christian communities and those who wish to leave or have left, receive the market-value of their home to help them resettle overseas. In essence, this project is about RECYCLING!
- The initiative will encourage the wider Christian community in the region.
- The immediate and positive impact of this project is that it will keep Christians in Kurdistan and contribute to stemming the refugee flow into countries outside of Iraq.
- If successful, the project is replicable and it will be an attractive solution to other organisations across Kurdistan.
How can YOU help?
This initiative is a creative, innovative and practical solution to a significant problem which is not currently being addressed in an adequate manner. You can help in a number of ways:
please tell people about the project,
make a contribution towards the project,
pray for the success of the project.
Not everyone will be in a position to secure employment and pay rent for their home. This means that a further opportunity may arise for donors, churches, charitable groups or trusts to purchase and gift a house for individuals or families who are severely disadvantaged to the extent they cannot participate in the rent-to-own scheme.
We would assume that such opportunities will be few and where applications for full support are made, they will be carefully scrutinised to ensure potential beneficiaries are actually unable to support themselves.
Please get in touch with us if you have any questions about projectRECYCLE or if you want to help.