Between 6 and 8 August 2014, Christians of Qaraqosh were driven out of their land and their property fell into the Islamists’ hands. 120 000 people moved to the capital of Kurdistan. They have nothing and are crowded together in many places (churches, schools, streets, camps).

Nine days later, two volunteers from the SOS Chrétiens d’Orient travel to Erbil and Ankawa to visit the refugees. An emergency aid is getting organized. The ravages of exodus begin to have a serious impact on the families. It is urgent to provide medical care for those who need it. The operation "so they can live" launches, it is a mobilization to allow in an emergency the construction of medical facilities.

Elias, inhabitant of Qaraqosh

On 8 August 2014, I barely escaped the terrorists. I woke up at 5am. The streets of Qaraqosh were deserted, the bazaar usually busy with sellers and families is filled with a deadly atmosphere. Nothing out there, not a neighbour.

Suddenly, a car appears. Inside, soldiers dressed in black hide their faces with a long beard and a red keffiyeh. ISIS took Qaraqosh. The raid begins. I escaped through the fields avoiding major roads, after long days fearing for my life. By determined efforts and divine grace, I finally reached Erbil. But today I'm hungry. 

Medical emergencies create panic and a makeshift ambulance does not allow a patient’s  adequate care. So, within ten days, thanks to a great mobilization of our French donors, three medical cabins are installed at Hidyab school, Mar Schmoni and Mar Elia. They include a reception area for the doctor, the fridge for medicines, air-conditioning, and a reception room with three beds for patients who are requiring emergency care.

In France, a donor warns the volunteers of an emergency in the Oum Nour refugee camp where there are problems with the supply of medicines and other commodities. Immediately, volunteers go there to assess emergency needs. While the camp is situated next to a storage center which is organizing distributions, it is struggling to help the 2500 Orthodox Syriac families in Erbil. Here, there are only five large tents with two or three families per tent and others in the basement of the church. This morning, the atmosphere is not very cheerful. However, we must continue to help the refugees. The volunteers of SOS Chrétiens d’Orient go to the general food store in order to check on the needs with the responsible in charge. Over twenty young Iraqi Christians organise the logistics for the distribution of supplies between the 24 refugee camps in Erbil and Ankawa. The activities carried out by volunteers are equal to the list of family needs: food, water, fans. In the camps our medical cabins operate at full speed with a constant crowd around at the consultation and first aid areas with new needs are constantly emerging. More than 750 families live in the camp with only six toilets and nine showers. One day for women, next day for men in order to preserve some privacy and not flood the surrounding tents.

Two weeks after the beginning of the mission, the needs of the people increase. Today the inhabitants of the village of Karemles call for volunteers. They live piled up in a building under construction near Mar Youssef church. They lack everything and a severe crisis is looming: water is missing for the next few days.  SOS Chrétiens d'Orient delivers more than 15 000 litres of water for the next Tuesday. 200 others will go to the Yezidis refugee center. But it is not the only emergency that threatens the daily lives of the 2500 inhabitants of this building. The children are starting to miss everything that was once normal in their lives.

The association delivers more than 50 packs of sheets and about 50 packs of powdered milk and purée for infants.

In eighteen days, SOS Chrétiens d'Orient realizes the impossible: distribution of water, food, medical emergency supplies and the donation of equipment. Thanks to the 30,000 euros collected, the association comforted the families who had seen their lives collapse in less than a day.



Volunteering is a commitment for a defined period. The volunteer is committed to a mission to serve others. To volunteer at SOS Chrétiens d’Orient you must:

- be older than 18 years old

- stay for a minimum for 1 month

- being in good physical shape

- have parental agreement for a possible departure

"I ask you to be revolutionary. Have the courage to go to counter-current. And also have the courage to be happy!" Pope Francis, July 28, speech to the volunteers of the WYD, Rio de Janeiro.

"I ask you to be revolutionaries. Have the courage to go against the grain. And have the courage to be happy!"

Pope Francis,

July 28, speech to WYD volunteers, Rio de Janeiro.