Two years on from Mosul falling to Islamic State, World Watch Monitor talked to Najiba, a woman who was forced to flee her home in Tel Skuf, just north of Mosul,when it was emptied of Christian families. Her house, like many others, now lies in ruins.
This is Najiba’s story:
It was raining again in the refugee camp in northern Iraq. A young boy tries to sweep the spreading puddles from the yard. Trying to keep dry, the camp inhabitants run towards their portacabins, huddled in their jackets to keep warm.
Najiba ushers us inside out of the rain. “Come and drink some hot coffee,” she says with a warm smile.
The cabin isn’t big. Two beds, a tiny kitchen and a separate toilet. Najiba lives here with her husband.
“Our house was beautiful, it was so organised,” Najiba starts off, with a sad smile. “My favourite place was the kitchen. I loved to cook, especially the typical Iraqi dishes. Now there is nothing.”
ISIL entered Tel Skuf early in August 2014. “We were able to leave just before they came,” Najiba tells us. “I was shocked. I just couldn’t believe I had to leave my town.”
WWMOnly weeks after Najiba fled, the Kurdish army recovered her town from ISIL. They found the place ransacked. Najiba shows us pictures of how they found her kitchen. A floral tablecloth is still on the table, and on it there’s an oven dish, as if Najiba had just cooked a meal. But around the table everything else lies in ruin – the cabinets are open and dirt covers the floor.
Tears well up in Najiba’s eyes: “The kitchen is still there, but the rest of the house is gone. The roof is destroyed and there is just rubble. It was most likely hit by a mortar in the fighting,” she says, her voice trembling.
“Now I don’t have a house anymore. There is no electricity, no water, and wild animals wander through the town,” Najiba explains.
Returning is not an option for Najiba. She has her portacabin and monthly food packages, and, although adjusting to refugee life has been hard, she is happy with the help she receives and remains positive. “At least I don’t have to live in a tent. I can lock my door here.”
Najiba, a Christian, says she is thankful to God for what He has been providing. From her portacabin window she can gaze out over a vast valley and imagine that, not far behind the hills, her town is waiting for her.
“I hope God will help us to go back to Tel Skuf soon,” she says.
- Pray for Najiba and her family, and for the thousands of refugees forced from their homes by ISIL.
- Give thanks for Najiba’ faith. Pray that her testimony to God’s goodness and faithfulness will open the hearts of many other refugees in her camp to the Gospel and truth of Jesus Christ.
- Pray for Iraq as it struggles with continued sectarian violence as well as ISIL’s presence in the country. Pray for wisdom for the government, for political stability and for freedom from ISIL’s hold and influence in this nation.
- Pray for peace in the streets and homes of Iraq, and for a move of the Holy Spirit over this nation, to turn many hearts to know the source of all peace and life, Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 26 vs 3: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.“