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Faith is Important to Refugees–Tearfund Research

Recent research showed that faith is a significant source of comfort for refugees, a press release of Tearfund stated.

The Institute of Global Health and Development (IGHD) at Queen Margaret University (QMU) and international development agency Tearfund conducted the research which will help humanitarian agencies identify areas on how to help displaced people effectively.

“If it is just verbal and daily arguments it is fine, but if it is serious and my family can’t solve it then we go to the religious people.”

The group, led by Dr Alison Strang and Oonagh O’Brien, studied the Yazidi people who left war-torn Iraq to escape the ISIS.

Using an innovative social mapping tool developed at IGHD, the study revealed that the Yazidi people are more comfortable seeking help from family, friends, neighbors and religious leaders to resolve personal problems. They are unlikely to ask agencies to help with their family problem as this would bring shame to one’s family.

One Yazidi woman, who is now living in a community in the Kurdish Region of Iraq, said she turns to a faith leader in times of a major crisis, Christian Today reports.

“If it is just verbal and daily arguments it is fine, but if it is serious and my family can’t solve it then we go to the religious people… If my husband wanted to divorce because he wanted another wife, I would go to Baba Sheikh [Yazidi spiritual leader] and ask for help.”

Maggie Sandilands of Tearfund said, “This research highlights the importance of faith as a key source of support and personal resilience, for people affected by conflict and displacement.”

Sandilands explained that the results of the research will allow them to better understand the culture and social norms of communities affected by the war. Humanitarian aid will be more suitable and useful to the people receiving it.

The findings of the research are shared with other organizations and policy makers to help them develop programs that are more appropriate in solving the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and other countries.

Oonagh O’Brien said, “The participatory approach used to gather this information can ensure that the voice of displaced people is listened to in the design of appropriate services from the humanitarian sector.”

Sources:
Tearfundorg. (2017). Tearfund. http://www.tearfund.org/en/media/press_releases/innovative_social_mapping_tool_shows_the_importance_of_faith_for_displaced_people_in_times_of_crisis/

Christiantodaycom. (2017). Christiantodaycom. https://www.christiantoday.com/article/tearfunds.research.into.the.faith.of.refugees.is.showing.how.religion.is.part.of.the.solution.not.just.part.of.the.problem/111058.htm

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