BEIRUT: A collection drive has been started for Iraqis who have fled to Lebanon to avoid persecution at the hands of the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria group, with organizers asking for donations of everything from basic foodstuff to kitchen utensils.
Bassma, a local non-governmental organization that works to empower disadvantaged communities and provide assistance to destitute families, is spearheading the initiative, which seeks to help a small but growing number of refugees fleeing religious persecution in Iraq.
“Someone posted a status on Facebook two days ago that Iraqis had arrived in two churches in Hazmieh, so I said, ‘Let’s do something about it,’” said Carine Dakak, who is involved in the project. “She said she needed help. So I posted a status asking for food and clothes and that was shared 300 times. I really didn’t expect it.”
Overwhelmed with responses from people wishing to help, Dakak realized that the logistics of organizing all the donations needed a professional touch, and decided to set up a meeting between the Chaldean Archdiocese – one of several Christian sects heavily present in Iraq – and Bassma.
“We were told that the refugees are coming in big numbers,” she said. “And more are expected to come.”
There is no accurate number for how many Iraqis have come to Lebanon in the wake of ISIS’ recent victories in the restive country, an exodus that appears to have increased following the violent group’s edict that Christians in the northern city of Mosul pay a religious tax, convert to Islam or be killed. A spokesperson for the Chaldean Archdiocese told The Daily Star that 50 Chaldean families had registered with them in the last month, and that some families consisted of up to 15 people.
Bassma is asking for food items like rice, sugar, tea, beans, lentils and other basics, hygiene products including soap and toothpaste, and general essentials such as furniture, kitchen tools and blankets. For those abroad who wish to help out, Bassma is also accepting online cash donations.
For more information, please search “SOLIDARITY WITH IRAQI REFUGEES” on Facebook or call 01-383-938.