HEAVY fighting between Islamic State (IS) militants and Kurdish
forces continues in the Syrian border town Kobane. Those who have
fled from the jihadists are preparing for an uncertain winter.
IS terrorists now control large swaths of land in northern Syria
and northern Iraq, and have displaced thousands, but are under
attack by Kurdish peshmerga soldiers, backed by airstrikes
from the United States and Britain, among others.
The RAF has flown 37 missions and launched ten successful
strikes against IS, the defence secretary, Michael Fallon, told MPs
on Monday. The US has been more heavily involved, and has dropped
weapons and ammunition to support those fighting IS on the
Refugees who fled the initial surprise offensive by IS earlier
this year are in many cases still unable to return to their homes.
The Washington Post has reported that Iraqi Christians who
fled the town of Mosul when it fell to IS in June do not intend to
return, believing that there is no future for them even if IS is
The charity Aid to the Church in Need said that as many as
70,000 Christians were sheltering in the Iraqi Kurdish capital of
Irbil. The Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq has estimated that
120,000 Christians have been displaced by the recent violence.
There are fears that some refugees may die during the cold
winters in northern Iraq, if they are forced to stay in tents and
other temporary accommodation. The aid agency Samaritan's Purse has
shipped 80 tons of supplies, including winter clothes and
heavy-duty plastic sheeting, to Iraqi refugees.
The charity's president, Franklin Graham, said: "Many of the
refugees, when they fled, were only able to leave with the clothes
on their back, and they are not prepared for this winter. So we're
doing what we can."
A woman from Brighton, Samara Levy, has arranged her own aid
shipment of clothes for refugees. Ms Levy said that she had been
inspired to donate clothes but all the charities she contacted said
that it would be too expensive and difficult to transport them from
the UK to Iraq.
Ms Levy said: "I saw these reports about the refugees in
northern Syria - how they had this massive dump of snow on the
camps but children were still wearing flip-flops. My children were
one and four and I found it heart-breaking that these families were
trying to survive in these conditions. I had been sav- ing baby
clothes for my sister but those people need it more than she
After hitting a brick wall with various aid agencies, however,
she tried to forget about her idea. "I prayed about it and I just
wanted to try and find a way. I asked God to show me a way to make
Despite having no means of transporting any clothes, Ms Levy
began imploring her friends and family to donate, and joined forces
with her children's school, and churches. Eventually, Mission and
Relief Logistics, a specialist shipping agency for relief work,
came aboard with a lorry and driver to take the clothes to a
humanitarian charity in northern Iraq.
"In the end we had so much donated we couldn't send everything
and filled the lorry," Ms Levy said. "We were able to pick out the
very best things."
The lorry filled with about 80 cubic metres of clothes left
Brighton last week and is expected to arrive in the Dohuk area of
Iraq by next week. The Christian Aid Programme in Northern Iraq
(CAPNI) will receive the shipment and distribute the clothes to
refugees there, who are mostly Christians or members of the Yazidi
Ms Levy said that 673 schools in the region had been filled with
displaced families, and that the UN was starting to build as many
as 14 camps to hold them.
"We are asked all the time for money, but actually to be able to
give something of yours is very personal and I think people really
like to get involved in this way. It's been a really inspiring
Ms Levy said that she would be interested in partnering with
other churches to attempt to collect more clothes to be sent to the