Humanitarian Catastrophe Now Unfolding in Anbar, Iraq: We Can Help!

This morning I received an urgent email from Jeremy Courtney, who founded the Preemptive Love Coalition (PLC) to help Iraqi children with severe medical needs. Just weeks ago I visited Iraq to see Jeremy and his wife, Jessica. Living and working in Iraq for nearly a decade has put Jeremy and Jessica and PLC in a unique position to understand and serve Iraqis now fleeing the horrors of ISIS. I met the PLC staff, visited the displaced people they’re serving, and fell in love with Iraq. I’d go back tomorrow if I could.

With Jeremy’s permission, I’ve posted his brief email, which notes his recent meetings with Iraq’s Speaker of Parliament. At the end you’ll find a link for donating to PLC. When other aid organizations move out, PLC just digs deeper. Every dollar raised will become an offering of love to Christian and Muslim Iraqis who are suffering.

Dear Friends,

We have great concern about the developing humanitarian catastrophe in Ramadi, Anbar, Iraq right now as 100,000 or more flee ISIS (see photo story here and commentary here).

We’ve worked in Anbar for years, so we were eager to respond. PLC was among the first to respond on the outskirts of Baghdad last week with our Iraqi volunteer corps as thousands left their homes and poured into Baghdad and surrounding areas. Thank you for making it possible for us to help them.

General Dempsey quipped last week that Ramadi is “not symbolic in any way.” He may argue there are more strategic places to focus, but it is wrong to imply that the loss of Ramadi would not be huge. Ramadi stands for all of Anbar. The road that goes from Baghdad to Jordan—Highway No. 1—runs directly through Ramadi.

If ISIS wins Ramadi, ISIS would officially dominate Anbar and would officially cut Sunnis off from Baghdad. It is highly symbolic if you are a Sunni Arab from Anbar who for years has felt marginalized by Baghdad. The fall of Ramadi would further undercut the future of Iraq and destroy a tentative trust between Sunnis and Shia.

There is still plenty of reason to be optimistic, but it’s important to not let this massive wave of displacement go unreported or unresponded to. As Christians, it is important that we not only defend the rights and well-being of Christians when they are persecuted and displaced by ISIS—we must do the same for Sunni Arabs when they are persecuted and displaced as well.

The humanitarian impact of Ramadi should not be downplayed. If the humanitarian issue grows, it will undercut the fabric of society and trust needed for military success. This moment is critical. We are working directly with Shia, Sunni, and Christian leaders on a multilateral response.

I’ve been in Baghdad this last week, on site where this is playing out. We were called back in today by the Speaker of Parliament (after our face-to-face last week) to discuss Ramadi responses. We’ve worked for years in Fallujah and Ramadi prior to 2014 providing heart surgeries for children—so I have deep affection for them and our team is deeply broken over this.

We’ve been asked to put together a quick response to the first round of 10,000 people the Speaker’s office, local councils, and the Sunni Endowment have identified and confirmed. Multiple reports suggest international aid groups are drying up and pulling out. We intend to go deeper and press in.

I value your prayers and friendship…

Jeremy Courtney Executive Director Preemptive Love Coalition Remake Your World

Please donate at www.preemptivelove.org/lovefirst. Funds will go where needed most, which currently is to the people of Ramadi.