Christians and Yazidis still facing harsh conditions in Iraq

As President Obama and U.S. lawmakers argue military strategies to fight the Islamic State -- also known as ISIS -- in Iraq, the widespread humanitarian crisis on the ground in the country’s north has only worsened.

David Darg, vice president of international operations at the humanitarian organization Operation Blessing, told thousands of displaced Christians and Yazidis remain in makeshift camps in and around Irbil.

He arrived in the region Tuesday and has so far met with local church leaders to assess their greatest needs.

“I’ve heard horrific tales of rape and destruction; the people have just gone through so much persecution -- having lost everything now, facing a bleak future waiting to see what happens,” said Darg.

While his group isn’t receiving updates from the battlefield, he says, “we’re hearing the stories of the victims who have fled for their lives from the front lines from Mosul and nearby villages.”

Darg says victims have “lost trust,” with many of them not wanting to return to their villages because of the fear the terrorists could strike again.

Operation Blessing has started delivering food and blankets to displaced people in camps, churches and abandoned buildings.

“Having fled and leaving everything behind, they really have nothing, so the Christian and Yazidi displaced families are lacking food, water, mattresses,” said Darg. “Winter is approaching … so blankets for the cold nights … and all the essential relief supplies that they are going to need to help sustain them for the next few months.”

While the local Kurdish government has tried to assist with displaced families, Darg says their main focus is fighting ISIS.

“The Peshmerga military are fighting on the front lines; I think they are pouring a lot of resources there and don’t have much left to provide for the refugees, internally displaced families.”

To find out more on Operation Blessing and their work in Iraq visit their website

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