Iraq to close all IDP camps by July 30

Iraq (MNN) — Religious minorities voice concerns as Iraq’s government threatens to close all of the Internally Displaced Persons or IDP camps by July 30, 2024.

“It’s a big concern because there’s a huge number; we’re talking probably over half a million people that are currently housed in IDP camps in Kurdistan,” Samuel* of Redemptive Stories explains.

“Many people view the camps as not a long-term healthy solution, which is the truth. But it is the current solution, and it continues to be an issue for which there aren’t good answers.”

IDP camp closures are “kind of a yearly campaign promise that they try to push through,” Samuel adds. “I doubt it will fully come to fruition, but some camps will be closed over the next four months.”

Most Christian IDPs have already been resettled in Iraq, but the Yazidi people have fewer options.

The Islamic State called Yazidis ‘infidels’ and tried to eliminate the entire population in August 2014. Hundreds of thousands of Yazidi people took refuge in Kurdistan, where they’re being pushed out of IDP camps today.

Views in June of 2019 around Sardashte Camp for displaced Yazidis, atop Shingal Mountain.
(Wikimedia Commons)

“For many of them, that means being relocated back to their homes, but again, home doesn’t really mean home because that’s why they’re in this camp in the first place,” Samuel says.

“Their home has been destroyed; their home is no longer safe, or they don’t have jobs; lots of different reasons.”

Opportunity follows every crisis. “This is another case where the Church, our brothers and sisters, can step in and fill a need,” Samuel says.

“If they (Yazidis) are displaced from these camps, they need to be housed somewhere so that’s another chance for Christians to love their neighbors as themselves.”

As Yazidis return to where they grew up, please pray that “this will create new opportunities for organizations to move back into those spaces where they haven’t been for many, many years – if ever – to serve in those communities,” Samuel requests .

Ask the Lord to protect the children of affected families. “The children have only known the camp; they’ve been there since 2015,” Samuel says.

“So many of them have been impacted by Christian ministries in those camps, centers that have taught them English, played games with them, and been in kindergarten or tutors.”

The header image depicts the Hassan Sham IDP Camp for Arabs who fled the Islamic State. The camp is located near Erbil Governorate and Mosul (Nineveh Plains) on the border of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq. (Wikimedia Commons)