"You shall love your neighbor as yourself." - Matthew 22:39b
What's the difference between an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) and a Refugee?
Geography. That's it.
IDPs flee their homes due to the threat of violence exactly like refugees do, but end up stuck in camps within the borders of their home countries due to a lack of resources and/or ability to get out. Refugees are lucky enough (or unlucky enough, depending on perspective) to make it out of their home countries.
In both cases, gripping fear nips at the heels of millions of fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters as they flee for their lives. In search for safe-haven and stability, most families find hunger, pain, disease, and hopelessness instead.
Unfortunately, IDPs tend to receive less press from news outlets. Sometimes the phrase, "Refugee Crisis," gets thrown into the headlines like an over-used catchphrase without telling the actual stories of the human beings it refers to. The phrase also leaves out a large and growing population of those families referred to as IDPs.
In light of all this tragedy, we recently received an encouraging, but eye-opening update from our mission partners in Afghanistan. These particular partners are intentionally reaching out to IDP families who are fleeing the Taliban. They have settled into two camps near the capital city of Kabul, which provides a little bit more safety and opportunity than their rural villages due to increased police presence.
In recent months, the Taliban has seen an increase in strength and power in rural Afghanistan. The resurgence is mostly due to the relative weakness of the government forces now that NATO troops and support have withdrawn from the country. The families left in the aftermath are mostly without access to basic necessities like clean water, food, and education.
One example is Hadiya, pictured on the right. She and her seven children fled their rural village and settled in the IDP camps near Kabul after her husband was murdered by Taliban forces simply due to their son being a soldier in the Afghan Army. Our mission partners seek to serve families like Hadiya's in regaining a sense of stability and livelihood by providing not only basic necessities, but also access to education.
"With the generous grant from IDES, we were able to provide food packages for 500 IDP families. Each package included 50 kg of flour, 5 kg of cooking oil, 5 kg of rice, 5 kg of beans, 1 kg of tea leaves and a package of salt," our partner said. "These food packages will feed a family of seven for a month and can go even further if it is rationed more carefully. The recipients of these packages profusely expressed their gratitude to those who provided the materials."
We praise God for the opportunity to assist our partners, which would not be possible without your generous support. You are the difference-makers for families like Hadiya's in receiving the help they so desperately need.
It is through opportunities like these that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is most effectively shared. Providing for physical needs is what opens the door to provide for spiritual needs. Many IDP and refugee families are also fleeing their native faith. The harvest fields are ripe for the Kingdom! Although recovery is a process, now is the time to share the good news.
"We will continue to support and provide relief to this very vulnerable population. We are so thankful for the continued support of our partners like IDES, which allows us to provide life-saving food and supplies," reported our partner. "We ask that you continue to pray for the people of Afghanistan..."
We will pray. We will continue. We will not give up.