“ACN PROJECTS ARE SIGNS OF HOPE FOR US.” – Patriarch SakoBy Marta Petrosillo, ACN International Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada
“Christians in Iraqi Kurdistan are living in miserable conditions.” That’s how Chaldean Patriarch, Louis Raphael I Sako described to Aid to the Church in Need the current situation of roughly 120 thousands Christians forced to flee their home and now living in the Iraqi Kurdistan. “It isn’t just the fact that they have to live in crowded cabins or – even worse – out in the open inside small tents which cannot shelter them from the cold winter.
Their main concern is their uncertain future. They are scared because they don’t know what to expect. They want to return home and they don’t know how long this situation is going to last.”
The Patriarch stressed how the tragic conditions of the refugees – who don’t know whether they will be able to work again or if their children will go back to school – affect their psychological state. Moreover, a lot of families are now divided because some of their members have already left the country, while the rest of the family is thinking about fleeing.
So far the crisis has lasted for five months, and during this time Christians often felt abandoned, especially by the Western world. “Now they finally feel that in the world there are people who care about them. And this is thanks to normal people’s charity and to associations like Aid to the Church in Need which did a lot for us.”
Patriarch Sako recently visited the first of eight schools – pre-fabricated PVC structures – donated by ACN. The schools are part of the 4 million emergency relief program created by ACN to provide thousands of displaced Iraqi Christians with food, shelter, schooling and gifts for children. “The school I visited comprises 24 classes: indeed a wonderful work,” Patriarch Sako told ACN. “Those projects are signs of hope for us.”
Bishop Shlemon Warduni, auxiliary Chaldean bishop of Baghdad, praised ACN’s help to Iraqi Christians. He visited few of the 150 PVC porta-cabins in Ankawa that ACN donated to the refugees, to be used as accommodations. “All those structures are already full of people – he told ACN – hopefully we will be able to put a roof above everyone’s head. This will happen because of charities like Aid to the Church in Need which undertook a great endeavor to help us.”
Bishop Warduni describes the difficult conditions in which all Iraqi people are living, especially those who belong to religious minorities. “Yazidis and Christians were dragged out of their houses, and they had to leave everything they owned. Now they suffer, while Islamic State terrorists are occupying their properties.”
As Christmas is on the approach, “the Church is doing all it can to help Christians celebrate the birth of our Lord in decent conditions,” said Bishop Warduni. “We will pray the Child Jesus to help our children, as every day we pray God asking Him to give us the strength to bear this terrible pain with patience and faith.”