NEW YORK (CNS) — A U.S.-based international Catholic agency July 28 issued a plea for emergency funds to help tens of thousands of Christians forced to flee their homes in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
“These Christian families have arrived with only their clothes, having been forced to leave everything behind in Mosul,” said Ra’ed Bahou, who is the Catholic Near East Welfare Association’s regional director for Jordan and Iraq. As families were “fleeing the city on foot,” he said, “ISIS militants then stole whatever dollars they had in their pockets, even their passports and identification papers.”
Bahou made the comments in a news release from CNEWA announcing the agency has launched a campaign to rush funds to the families.
Islamic militants known as ISIS, or the Islamic State fighters, have solidified their control over Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul by imposing Shariah, Islamic law, and are ordering Christians to convert or pay a special tax or they will die.
Mosul’s Christians have instead fled to the Christian villages of Ninevah province — some just a few miles from Mosul — or to the autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.
An agency of the Holy See, CNEWA works throughout the Middle East, with offices in Amman, Jordan, Beirut and Jerusalem. It has been active in Iraq for more than 50 years, but redoubled its efforts among the vulnerable Christian population in 1991.
Donations can be made online at www.cnewa.org, by phone at (800) 442-6392, or by mail to CNEWA, 1011 First Ave., New York, NY 10022-4195. The agency is a religious charity registered in the state of New York, so all contributions are tax deductible.
According to Bahou, Christian families have found refuge in churches, convents and monasteries, he added.
Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Moshe of Mosul and the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena — themselves homeless — the clergy, religious and villagers are trying to provide the basics, said the CNEWA release. It said refuge, especially in the villages of Alqosh, Bakhdida (Qaraqosh), Bartella and Tel Kaif, is “tenuous at best,” because the Islamic State has cut the electricity and water supply, and has announced its intentions to overrun the region.
“These villages are in the hands of God,” Bahou said, “as ISIS says their next ‘gift’ will be the villages of the Ninevah Plain.”
Msgr. John E. Kozar, who is president of CNEWA, said the agency will get the emergency funds to the bishops, clergy and religious, “who in the frenzy are courageously providing water, food, mattresses and medicines” to fleeing Christians.
The world is “witnessing, at the hands of extremist thugs, the eradication of a cradle of Christianity in the cradle of civilization,” the priest said in a statement.
He added that the agency will help the “shepherds of this flock to tend their sheep, with the basics they need for survival now … even if their flock is dispersed.”
The BBC reported July 28 that in a joint message, France’s foreign minister and interior minister have offered Iraqi Christians asylum. “We are ready, if they so desire, to help facilitate asylum on our territory,” their statement said.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103