The strategic withdrawal of Kurdish forces to naturally defensive areas, the commitment of the US to intervene with air strikes, the international attention, and the increased involvement of the Iraqi air force in the last 24 hours seem to have greatly strengthened the position of the Kurds. We are far from the front lines.
|Our house in Ankawa.|
In the meantime, we are more or less going about life as usual. (To top it all off, yesterday was our anniversary! We went out to a restaurant and had pizza and ice cream, which felt strange, given the context...) We are also paying very close attention to the news, keeping in touch with an NGO security meeting group, listening to partners' views on our presence and the situation, and clarifying our evacuation plans should the need arise.
Kaitlin and Jim are submitting a proposal to get an immediate emergency grant from MCC to give to the local Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese for supplies. The church leadership is very organized; yesterday morning when we stopped by Mar Yusef, the largest church in Ankawa, they were already unloading 15 brand new refrigerators (or air conditioners--we couldn't tell) to use for the approximately 2000 people who had already arrived in the church buildings and courtyard. In the meantime, many of MCC's partners are shifting their development projects that MCC had been supporting to more immediate relief needs.
It feels wrong not to be doing more personally ("I was a stranger and you welcomed me in...") and I hope there are opportunities to do things that directly help those who have lost so much. There are about four seminary students whose families were displaced and are now in Ankawa, so we may be able to offer them meals and showers periodically, and housing if their current housing deteriorates.
It is difficult to know how to pray, given on the one hand the imperial legacies of conflict in this region and our nation's apparent return to the scene and on the other hand the brutal and cancerous evil that ISIS seems more and more clearly to be. My heart goes out especially to the Yezidis trapped on Sinjar mountain, to people hiding in ISIS- held towns, and to the young men of Mosul that ISIS has reportedly begun conscripting into service.