Adapted by Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada
Montreal, Friday August 8, 2014 – Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is giving an additional emergency aid of $146,000 to support Iraqi Christians who had to flee to Erbil after new attacks during the night of the 6th to the 7th of August in the Christian capital of Iraq – Quaracosh – and in the Nineveh plains.
This sum, added to the first grant sent a few days ago, makes ACN one of the most important donors with help totaling near $300,000. We call upon all people of good will to enable us to continue our help to Christians in Iraq and in the Middle-East. They will continue to need your help and they are counting on you. You can donate by phone at 514 932-0552, est. 222 or online by following the link.
Speaking over the phone from Erbil, the source, asking to remain anonymous for security reasons told ACN that, following the recent capture by ISIS of the Niniveh Plains, some tens of thousands Christians fled to Duhok and Erbil. “Those who lived between Alqosh and Tall Kayf moved towards Duhok, while the ones staying in the villages between Qaraqosh and Bashiqa reached Erbil,” the source said. In the Kurdistan capital the Church shelters refugees in the Chaldean Cathedral of St. Joseph, located in the Christian section of Ankawa, and in the other churches of the city. “The Church has been doing all it can, but the resources are not sufficient to help so many people, among them women and children, who were forced to leave it all behind: homes and all their personal possessions.” In the past two months about 2000 Christian families have fled to Lebanon, while another 2000 have found refuge in Turkey.
On foot and with their pyjamas
Thousands of people left their homes quickly, unable to carry anything with them. Many of them arrived in Erbil on foot, wearing just their pyjamas. The refugees recounted tragic stories: in Qaraqosh a woman was killed along with her mother and her two children, while in Tall Keyf a young man died from wounds caused by shelling. Besides the plight of the refugees, there is great pain and fear affecting the 100,000 Kurdistan Christians, living mainly Erbil, Duhok, Zahko, Sulaymaniyah and Amadiya.
According to ACN’s source, chances of an ISIS attack on Kurdistan are low, as the area is well protected militarily. Even so, Kurdistan Christians are frightened by what happened to their fellow believers in Mosul and on the Nineveh Plane and fear for the future of their country. “Many families have been here for decades and no one ever thought about leaving before the latest developments. Unlike what happened in other areas of Iraq, in Kurdistan Christians benefited from considerable safety, security and wealth.”
“Many of them have money and can afford to leave and probably they will because they are tired of suffering. They think of their children’s future and they’ve been told by relatives who have emigrated that abroad they will find peace,” the source added.
In his opinion, the current situation and the likely ongoing fighting could lead to the elimination of Christianity from Iraq: “An intervention might mean waiting another 10 years for a better future. There will be only ruins and rebuilding will take time and cause much suffering. Iraqis are exhausted and they wonder whether they’d better wait in another country for the situation to change.”