The international Christian relief organization Shelter Now provides humanitarian relief to Christians returning to their home region of Nineveh in northern Iraq. Seven years ago, the terrorist militia IS had displaced around 200,000 Assyrian Christians; now many wanted to build a new life in their ancestral lands, explains the German Shelter Now director Udo Stolte. The relief organization supports several hundred families with food, school materials and medical aid.
The returning residents find their homes partially or completely destroyed and robbed and have to start all over again, Stolte said. Since 2019, Shelter Now has already been helping to a fresh start in the areas around the major city of Mosul. The contact with the Christian families has existed for a long time – they were met when they sought shelter in church communities and camps in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan. A large part of the displaced persons had fled to this area.
The families supported by Shelter Now receive food for two months – including, for example, rice, beans and sugar, eggs and chicken meat. Children get school bags, notebooks, writing utensils, geometry sets or drawing pads. For people who are ill, individual medical treatments are made possible. According to Stolte, more than 180,000 euros have been spent so far on aid projects for displaced Christians.
Implementing relief efforts is sometimes complicated, Shelter Now explained. Travel to the settlement areas, for example, had been restricted due to Covid 19 pandemic measures; some roads had been closed at times. Here, good contacts with the regional authorities would have proven their worth. Moreover, because of the danger of looting by marauding militias, transports would have had to be carried out secretly.
The families in particular need of assistance had been selected by Shelter Now together with local church congregations. “Helping all the returnees would be far beyond our capabilities,” says the relief agency’s director. The relief supplies were then distributed in church buildings. “People have regained their courage,” says Udo Stolte. Reconstruction in the Christian localities is progressing constantly.
Shelter Now is an international relief organization with a coordination office in Germany. It was active in Pakistan from 1983 to 2016. Work began in 1988 in Afghanistan and in 2014 in the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan (Northern Iraq). The name of the organization in Germany is “Shelter Now Germany e.V.”. Shelter Now finances its relief efforts to a large extent from private donations. Shelter Now’s efficient and project-related use of funds is certified by the German Central Institute for Social Issues (DZI) with the donation seal.