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Zerqa is a densely populated city just northeast of the Jordanian capital of Amman, home to more than 800,000 people, many of them descendants of Palestinian refugees. For more than 30 years, CNEWA’s Mother of Mercy Clinic has provided quality maternity care to the city’s poor, almost all of whom live in the neighboring refugee camp. But for the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, who have administered and staffed the clinic since 2001, recent events in the region have added a new dimension to their work — the sisters hail from the same area in and around Mosul and personally understand the suffering of the Iraqi refugees who now come to the clinic for care.

“ISIS took over our convent in Qaraqosh,” says Sister Najma Habash, who heads the clinic’s work. Ten of her community’s sisters have since died. Her own mother, she says, seems to have aged five years in the past five months from escaping the brutal ISIS takeover.

Although the clinic specializes in prenatal and postnatal care for mothers and children, it offers a wide range of health care services to some 30,000 patients annually.

Sister Najma says many Iraqi Christians are struggling with depression, feeling that their “liberty and dignity have been taken away from them.”

Those who fled, she says, had homes and enjoyed financially independence. “Now they find it hard to buy bread, food and basic necessities for their families.”

Often, even finding a place to sleep is difficult, she says. “In the beginning of the crisis, there was a lot of aid, but now that has diminished. Even some Christians have been forced to return to northern Iraq because they cannot afford the costs of staying here.”

Housing is one of the major challenges refugees face in Jordan. The country is inundated with refugees, and more arrivals are driving up housing costs and other prices.

Jamil, who once owned a restaurant in Qaraqosh, says he and his 24 relatives now share one dingy apartment because they do not know how long their money will last.

Others, such as Samir Deshto, the father of the newborn baby at the Italian Hospital in Amman, describe how some are forced to live in unhealthy conditions.

“We live in a single, tiny basement room,” the young man says, describing it as stuffy and unsanitary. “There is a hole in the ground that serves as a toilet and there is a small sink, but not much else.”

To bathe, Mr. Deshto and his family must go to his father-in-law’s cramped, two-room apartment packed with eight people.

Thanks to its benefactors, CNEWA provides funds and practical assistance to some 17 hosting centers — mainly located in parish churches — that shelter those Iraqi Christians unable to pay rent or find alternative housing.

“The help we are giving to the centers is not enough,” says regional director Ra’ed Bahou. “We need more. We also assist when other organizations cannot meet their obligations.”

The abandoned St. Ephraim Syriac Orthodox Church perched high on Ashrafiyeh, one of Amman’s many steep hills, is one such place sheltering Iraqi Christians.

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