Aid to refugees



18.09.2015 in ACN Canada, ACN PROJECTS, Aid to refugees, International Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, Refugees, Syria, Syrie




The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has endorsed a joint fundraising campaign aimed at involving all the Church in Canada in order to assist Syrian refugees seeking shelter and protection in the Middle East and parts of Europe. The joint campaign, already being supported by Bishops across the country, involves the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Canada, and CNEWA Canada.

The three Canadian Catholic aid and development agencies will collaborate in their fundraising for Syrian refugees, so as to respond as effectively as possible to the complex and overwhelming Syrian emergency. Donations can be made to any or all three of the organizations. Each will continue working with its respective partners in the Middle East, using its own unique approaches and networks. The Holy See, as well as Bishops in Canada and the Middle East, have expressed appreciation on how the activities of the three agencies are mutually complementary in responding to different but equally important priorities.

Development and Peace will work to expand its ongoing efforts to support Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries in the Middle East, and also expand its reach through the Caritas international family to come to the aid of the thousands of migrants who have fled across the Mediterranean Sea and are now seeking shelter. ACN and CNEWA will continue to support all refugees affected by this war and will also give special attention to Christian refugees and displaced persons, hoping to ensure a continued Christian presence in the Middle East.

The three agencies will later send reports to Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada on the total funds received for Syrian refugees as a result of the new campaign. The Government of Canada announced on September 12 it has established the Syria Emergency Relief Fund. Every eligible dollar donated by individual Canadians to registered Canadian charities in response to the impact of the conflict in Syria will be matched by the government, for up to $100 million, effective immediately and until December 31, 2015.

At a special meeting held during the 2015 Plenary Assembly, the Conference’s Permanent Council stated it rejoices at the news some Canadian dioceses and eparchies have already launched or will soon launch their own projects in aid of Syrian refugees. The Permanent Council, which is the CCCB administrative board, encourages those dioceses and eparchies to support the joint campaign. All other dioceses and eparchies in Canada are invited to organize their own parish collections for the joint campaign from now until Sunday, November 15, 2015, inclusive. Each diocese is free to decide how it will distribute the funds among the three national agencies.

While the Government of Canada will match funds raised for Syrian refugees by all registered Canadian charities, only a few of these, including Development and Peace, are designated by the government as eligible to apply for its assistance in their work on behalf of Syrian refugees. The total funds raised by Development and Peace, or other designated Canadian agencies, will not be a factor in the amount of government funding that can be requested for Syrian refugee projects.

Development and Peace, Aid to the Church in Need Canada, and CNEWA Canada have been actively fundraising for refugees from Syria and other Middle Eastern countries for some years. This spring, Development and Peace, in its earlier 2013 campaign with the Bishops of Canada, had raised more than $13 million for Syrian and Middle Eastern refugees. This also included matching funds from the Government of Canada. Recently, Aid to the Church in Need, a pontifical foundation which fundraises in a number of countries, including Canada, reported its previous efforts had raised $10.3 million in emergency aid for Syrian refugees. CNEWA is a papal agency that fundraises in Canada and the United States and works closely with Eastern Catholic Churches and Orthodox Churches in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. In 2014, CNEWA (Canada and USA) sent US $4,441,665 to help Syrian refugees in Lebanon and displaced persons in Syria.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, the Syrian conflict has resulted in the largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War. After five years of conflict, some four million Syrians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries in the Middle East as well as in parts of Europe. In addition, there are hundreds of thousands of Syrians displaced and homeless within their own country. Calling again on the world and the Church to help these “millions of people … in a distressing state of urgent need,” Pope Francis has described the conflicts in Iraq and Syria “one of the most overwhelming human tragedies of recent decades.”


PRESS RELEASE: Syria – The Catholic Church launches appeal in response to refugee crisis

17.09.2015 in ACN Canada, Aid to refugees, Emergency Aid, Press Release, Refugees, Syria


CAMPAGNE - SYRIE - 20130307_008The Catholic Church launches appeal in response to refugee crisis

Funds to be matched by Canadian government

Montreal, Thursday September 17, 2015 – The Catholic Church in Canada is mobilizing to respond to the growing refugee crisis that is currently affecting Europe and the Middle East.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA) and Aid to the Church in Need are launching for the first time a joint appeal to the generosity of Canadian Catholics and all Canadians, showing the magnitude of this tragic crisis.

The majority of refugees currently attempting to enter Europe are from Syria, where an ongoing civil war that began over four years ago has displaced 7 million Syrians within their own country and has created 4 million refugees.

Funds collected through this appeal will go towards humanitarian aid for Syrians living through the suffering of war and those who have fled to other countries, including Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey who are hosting the vast majority of Syrian refugees.

The Canadian government has announced the Syrian Emergency Relief Fund and will match donations made by Canadians to organizations responding to this crisis, including Development and Peace, CNEWA and Aid to the Church in Need. Donations made before December 31st, 2015 are eligible for matching.

This fund was announced in the wake of a mass influx of refugees from Syria, as well as from Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea and other countries plagued by poverty, war and lack of human rights, that are making treacherous journeys to enter Europe. Pope Francis called on parishes around the world to open their doors to Syrian refugees, and dioceses across Canada have launched sponsorship initiatives.

In his open letter to Canadians earlier this month, the Most Reverend Paul-André Durocher, Archbishop of Gatineau and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said: “The refugee crisis is an important moment to deepen our faith, extend our charity, and summon up hope. Together we can make a better world for all those in need, and so witness to Christ’s Kingdom.”

Canadians can show their solidarity by contributing to this appeal for humanitarian aid and/or to sponsorship programs in their dioceses. Collections will be taking place in parishes across Canada over the coming weeks, and Canadians can also donate directly to the organizations participating in this joint appeal by visiting their respective websites or contacting the organizations by phone.


Development and Peace



CNEWA               cnewa.ca    


Aid to the Church in Need



For more information or an interview, please contact:

Kelly Di Domenico
Communications Officer, Development and Peace
514 257-8710 ext. 365


Lauriane Ayivi

514 288 8290 poste 233



Robert Lalonde

Aid to the Church in Need
1-800-585-6333 ext. 224




PRESSE RELEASE: Iraq – Aid to the Church in Need opens refugee school in Iraq

15.12.2014 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Aid to refugees, Iraq, Persecution of Christians, Refugees

First of eight schools for Christian children inaugurated

Oliver Maksan, ACN International

Adaptation Robert Lalonde, AED Canada


Montreal/Königstein / Erbil-Ankawa, December 15th, 2014- Last thursday, a school for Christian children was inaugurated in Erbil-Ankawa. This is the first of a total of eight schools funded by the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need ACN).

The charity’s President, Johannes von Heeremann, had come to attend the inauguration in the Christian district of Erbil, Ankawa. “For our organisation the education of children is the top priority. We must not allow conditions to develop in Iraq such as prevail in Syria, where children have sometimes not been attending any kind of school for years. This leads to lost generations with unforeseeable long-term consequences. I am therefore very happy that, by inaugurating this school, we can make a small, but important contribution to safeguarding the Christian presence in Iraq,” Johannes von Heereman stressed on Thursday in Ankawa.

The school project is being supervised by the head of the charity’s middle east department, Andrzej Halemba. “We have provided about 2 million euros for the school projects. The schools cannot cover their needs, of course. But it’s a beginning. The ecumenical cause is also being supported. One school in Dohuk will serve primarily Syriac-Orthodox children. In addition Yazidi children will also be able to attend our schools.”

A further argument for staying


Halemba went on the stress that the communities taking the refugees in would therefore be relieved of some of their burden. “After all, many school buildings have been used and are being used as accommodation for refugees. The schoolchildren’s parents feared that their offspring’s schooling would be interrupted. This led to tensions. These can now be reduced,” according to Halemba. “The schools are giving parents and children fresh hope. They are a further argument for staying in the country they love.”

The Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil-Ankawa, Bashar Matti Warda, thanked Aid to the Church in Need for their support. “This is an important contribution to giving our refugees new perspectives. We wish to thank all benefactors for their generosity.”

The school, made of prefabricated parts, will be the first of a total of eight schools in the Iraqi provinces of Dohuk and Erbil. In January of next year it is intended that they will all be in operation. In all, about 7200 mainly Christian children are to receive instruction in this way. There will be two shifts, morning and afternoon, and in each about 450 children of all grades will be taught. They will be taught by teachers from the Christian places now occupied by ISIS. The central government in Baghdad will pay to maintain the teaching staff. The classrooms are to be used not only for school teaching, but also for catechistic instruction and other Church activities.

Since the ISIS terrorist militia advanced into northern and western Iraq in June this year, many more than 100,000 Christians in several waves had to flee from their home areas and leave everything behind. They mostly found refuge in the northern Iraqi region of Kurdistan. The bishops fear there will be an increasing exodus from Iraq if the people cannot be offered a perspective quickly.

ACN has therefore made available aid to the tune of 5,77 millions dollars for the persecuted Christians in this and the previous year. This includes, among many other things, the acquisition of mobile homes and the provision of food.

Journey with ACN – Iraq

28.11.2014 in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Aid to refugees, Iraq, Journey with ACN

JOURNEY WITH ACN is  our weekly newsletter regularly posted to our blog and designed to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world – and various projects we have helped to bring into being together with ACN benefactors.

This week :  Iraq


Teaching the Faith, even in time of war

No matter how difficult life has been for Christians in Baghdad since 2003, the Church still strives by every possible means to keep on with the teaching of the Faith, and also to continue with her other work involving children and young people.

Now, above all, the local Church needs to feel part of the universal Church. This can be done best by passing on the eternal truths of the faith to the next generation – a generation that hopefully, will be able to make its own contribution in the future to a peaceful coexistence among all religions in Iraq.

Every Friday – the Muslim day of prayer – the various Christian communities provide religious instruction for the faithful. There are at least 20 large and small Chaldean communities involved in organizing such instruction. Many of their communities are situated in the most dangerous areas of the city – although at the same time, in the current instability, people are in danger everywhere and at all times in Baghdad.


To reduce the potential danger to children, both they and the catechists have to be collected safely from their homes by bus and brought to one of the eight larger and nine smaller centres, and driven home again afterward – keeping one such bus going costs anywhere between 150 and 300 dollars a month, depending on the size of the bus. This results in a total cost each year of 45,000 dollars for the parishes of Bagdad to deal with transport alone.

But money is also needed for the teaching materials and books. Here again the total cost to the parishes is around 5,000 dollars annually. The Christians of Iraq need all the help we can give them – especially now – if they are to remain in their own homeland and live their faith daily.

We were happy to promise a contribution of $53,600 for this project.  Now we are counting on your support to help us make good on our promise to these Iraqi parishes.

To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

PRESS RELEASE: Jordan – Aid to the Church in Need supports Christian refugees from Iraq

11.11.2014 in ACN Canada, ACN International, Aid to refugees, Emergency Aid, Persecution of Christians
To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

Oliver Maksan, ACN International

Adapted by Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada 

Montreal, Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 – The Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has allocated $77 500 of humanitarian aid for Christian refugees from Iraq. This will support about 200 families from the Mosul region who have been taken in by the Catholic parish “Mary, Mother of the Church” in Amman (Jordan).


Parish priest Khalil Jaar said to Aid to the Church in Need: “The people arrived here with nothing. They therefore urgently need anything that could in any way be useful, such as shoes, clothing, blankets and medicine. Daily meals also need to be provided for about 200 families. No one can say for how many days or months they will be living in our parish.”

King Abdullah II condemn violence

According to Father Jaar, the families are no longer only living in the common rooms of the rectory; some have in the meantime been moved to flats the parish has rented in the surrounding area. “We are still taking in new arrivals every day. We have started renting small flats close to our church. We are housing at least two families in each of these because the rental costs are very high.”


In addition to meeting everyday necessities, the parish is also caring for the psychological needs of the children and their parents as well as organising discussion groups and prayer meetings, Father Jaar said. He explained that the Christians who fled Mosul to escape the militias of the “Islamic State” have experienced terrible things. “In the summer,” the priest continued, “the Muslim extremists who conquered Mosul gave Christians the choice of either converting to Islam, paying a tax or risk being executed. The result was a mass exodus of Christians to the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan. A man told me how they were inspected at an ISIS checkpoint as they fled Mosul. Everything was taken from them, money, passports, jewellery and watches. Their three-year-old son was not even allowed to take his milk bottle with him.”Jordanie-3

According to Father Jaar, King Abdullah II of Jordan has reacted to the persecution by allowing many of the Christians from Mosul to stay in his country. “The king has proclaimed his sympathy and his support for the persecuted groups and has condemned the violent acts of the ISIS as not Islamic.”

Aid to the Church in Need supports the Christians suffering from ISIS terror both inside and outside of Iraq. The pastoral charity recently granted 5,77 million dollars of emergency aid to internally displaced Christians in Iraq, one of the largest individual programmes in the charity’s history.


Greetings from Dohuk – Iraq

10.09.2014 in ACN Canada, Aid to refugees, Iraq, Persecution of Christians, Refugees
To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

Today I would like to share with you the points below which we heard from the majority of the displaced people who we met.

Why we need international protection?

Why we need safe haven area?


There are today new realities on the ground in northern Iraq after the speed through which ISIS controlled vast swaths of land including area mainly inhabited by non-Muslim indigenous minorities (Christians and Yezidis).  With regard to the above those minorities are in fear of losing their centuries old culture, faith, livelihood, and heritage.  The situation of these indigenous people is in real peril if something is not done fast.  They are living a real fear of extinction and eradication if they are not protected and we believe we need to do that for the following reasons:

1- They have lost trust in the Iraqi government’s will and capacity to protect them, needless to say how the Iraqi forces left Mosul or rather surrendered Mosul and many other areas to ISIS without putting up a fight.

2- They have lost trust in KRG’s capacity to protect them. In some cases the famous Peshmarga escaped without informing the civilians they were supposed to protect.

3- They have lost trust in their own neighbors, in the city of Mosul as well as other cities such as Sinjar and Telkef where non-Muslim minorities lived side by side with their Muslim neighbors in peace and tranquility as long as there was a power that checked the Muslim majority. In the absence of that power, the Muslim neighbors saw their non-Muslim neighbors stealing all they can put their hands  just like what happened in the aftermath of the Massacre of Semele (Iraq) in 1933. With the power vacuum that was instigated by the ill-designed policies of the Iraqi government and with the sweeping control of ISIS, it was the neighbors who told ISIS where were the non-Muslim houses were because they, Muslim neighbors, served as an incubator to support ISIS terrorists, not only did they show the houses to ISIS but they also participated in the looting and stealing that ensued.

4- We see that the perpetuity of these ancient communities has become, at this point, the responsibility of the civilized world, because they have lost all faith in their government(s) and neighbors

5- The world has to stop the current genocide, displacement, and forced migration, and that could only be accomplished if we protect these minorities In their own historic lands and we believe this is doable if the world acts on establishing a safe haven area.

6- It will be good even for those Muslim neighbors alluded to in 3 above as these thriving minorities will serve as catalysts that will benefit the cultural exchange and coexistence across the Iraqi mosaic.


7- It will serve as an international example if marketed wisely to the region and the world.  The success of which could serve as a good example of the possibility of different ethnic groups, religions to live side by side in peace and harmony.

8- It will entice the local governments to induce the example into their education systems and eventually to the national level which will lead to forming laws and regulations where ethnic and religious minorities will not feel they are second class citizens.

9- It will prevent further forced migration and eventually lift a burden on the economy of the western countries these non-Muslim minorities are heading to.

10- It will tell the majority Muslims in Iraq that they are on the watch when it comes to persecuting non-Muslims.

11- it will force other countries with non-Muslim minorities to be on the watch and treat their non-Muslim minorities fairly.

This is a cry for help, this is an appeal for preservation of ancient human culture that contributed to immensely to mankind, we hope you will find in your good heart the means and ways to protect these minorities.

Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana

ܐܪܟܕܝܩܘܢ ܥܡܢܘܐܝܠ ܝܘܚܢܢ

Christian Aid Program CAPNI

Dohuk, Iraqi Kurdistan


An ACN exclusive interview with an Iraqi priest

05.09.2014 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN Interview, Aid to refugees

The following interview was conducted by Robert Lalonde, head of information for ACN Canada, on Monday, September 1st, 2014, with Father Majid McDassy o.p., Dominican fathers convent in Baghdad


 Have any northern Iraqis moved towards Baghdad? 

Yes. In fact, families are beginning to move and to come to Baghdad in order to seek refuge.


What do you estimate their numbers to be and how do they manage to meet their basic needs? 

We don’t have exact statistics, but after communicating with some priests, there seem to be about a hundred refugee families in Baghdad.   


Are you worried about the security of Christians in the capital? 

Yes indeed, as the series of abductions has continued in Baghdad and each abducted person must pay a considerable amount (sometimes over $100,000 US) to obtain his or her freedom. Unfortunately, for a Christian, there is no tribe to protect him or her or to pay a ransom. We are simply easy prey, living in an aggressive society. And bombings are multiplying and continue to take innocent lives every day.


What is the present climate in the streets of Baghdad?

There is a climate of fear and distrust. We are also waiting for a new government to form and to begin establishing order in Iraq.


Are there any events to report which would particularly concern Christians in Baghdad? 

To start with, the abductions terrify us. Then, the inequality, namely the fact of being Christian, which leads to us to being marginalized in Iraqi society.  


According to you, what is this conflict based on?  

When everything is tangled up, such as religion (Sunni and Shiite), politics (power of domination), economy (petroleum) and tribalism, the agendas of neighbouring countries with great international powers   all of this obviously results in a considerable basis of permanent conflict.  




Do you see a solution? 

There is no quick, immediate and close solution falling from the sky at this time. We must plan a solution beginning with the liberation of the Nineveh valley. Then, we must immediately begin to reimburse our exiled families, as the Islamic State (IS) has stolen all of their goods. There is also the international community, which must put pressure on Baghdad’s central government so that we are respected and our rights are given back to us.

An Iraqi Christian is always marginalized in this country.  


How do you foresee the future of Christianity in Iraq?

Answering this question is very difficult; the reality is harsh and also, we must be optimistic and act as people who carry hope for ourselves and for others. A hard future is ahead, because the Iraqi society does everything for islamization and we are victims of this project. The islamization project easily finds its place, in schools as well as in the whole education system. An example of this is that, in Iraq, we are learning the Arabic language through the Qur’anic verses. The following observations certainly lead to reflection on the future in Iraq:

In Iraq, there is no equality and room for the small minority is always violated;

Iraqi law is based on the foundation of Islamic law;

A Christian does not find work easily. And when he finds work, he remains undesirable, as our values go against the grain. For example, we don’t accept corruption;

A Christian cannot easily exert his rights; he’s always a loser;  

The condition of Christian women in this society is not easy;

In short, the future of those who are different and do not share the same faith, the same skin color and the same opinion remains unknown in this country!


Do you have a message to transmit to our benefactors?

A word of thanks to our benefactors, because it is thanks to your donations, that children and seniors can go on with their lives with dignity. Your donations are our consolation in this moment of distress. We feel that we are not alone and that we have brothers and sisters throughout the world who think of us, pray for us and work for us. It’s a Eucharistic gesture which carries a sense of giving and of sharing with others. Despite our misery, your goodness heals our wounds. Despite the IE’s presence, the weed in the body of humanity, you are there, the good-willed people who sow joy in others. It’s evangelization in action. May God bless you!

To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.








Jordan – “We have lost everything”

29.08.2014 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Aid to refugees, Iraq, Persecution of Christians
To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.

Oliver Maksan, ACN International

Adapted by Robert Lalonde, ACN Canada



 Raed is in his mid 40s. But when he is telling his story he looks much older than that. Weeks of fear and uncertainty have left the mark on the Chaldean Catholic from Mossul. “We have been fleeing from ISIS for a month,” he says tiredly, and draws on a cigarette. “I left my home in Mossul on 18 July. Perhaps for ever. Who can say.”

Prior to that, the Jihadists had confronted the Christians of Mossul with the notorious ultimatum: convert to Islam, pay the capitation tax for Christians or face death, the extremists had declared. But an ultimatum from the self-proclaimed Caliph Ibrahim permitted the Christians to leave the district in advance. The price was that they must leave behind everything they had. “My house was marked with an ‘N’ to show that Christians lived in it and that it was now in the possession of the Islamic State. Then, one day before the expiry of the ultimatum, we fled. When we reached the ISIS checkpoints they took everything – laptop, camera and all the cash I possessed. That was the capitation tax that was due from Christians, they said. My six-year-old son is hard of hearing, and they even stole the batteries from his hearing aid. Can you imagine that?”



When Raed protested, the bearded men threatened him with heavy machine guns; either he obeyed or they would immediately take him away. “And it is not hard to imagine what would happen then,” he says. Having thus barely escaped with his life and that of his family – his wife and three small children – they found refuge in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish Autonomous Region in northern Iraq. The city is hardly more than two hours drive from Mossul. “There we had to sleep in the open. There were so many refugees. The Church supplied us with the most necessary provisions such as rice and other food. But when Erbil also appeared to come under threat from ISIS for a time, I just wanted to get out of Iraq.”

The family man had to take a loan to finance the journey out of the country for himself and his loved ones. The destination was the neighbouring country of Jordan. They reached Amman on Monday, 18 August. “I am very grateful to the King of Jordan for accepting us here. Here, for the first time, we feel safe.”

As well as with Raed and his family, Pastor Khalil Jaar has taken about a hundred other Iraqi refugees into his parish in Amman since the middle of August. Mattresses and suitcases belonging to the new arrivals are piled in the parish hall. All of them came from Mossul and its surroundings. But it is not the first time that refugees have come knocking on his door.

The Catholic priest has been giving shelter to oppressed Christians in the Middle East for years. “First came the Iraqis after 2003. Then we took in Syrians trying to escape from the war in their homeland. And now a new wave of Christian Iraqis is arriving here. Our King has provisionally offered to accept some 500 Christian families from Iraq. If all goes well, about 1,500 further families will follow,” he says. “These people are totally exhausted. The old people just want to sleep, because they have been fleeing for weeks. The women and children cry a lot. Their experiences have been dramatic and they are completely traumatised. A young woman told me in tears how she had to watch while an ISIS man ripped the gold earring from the ear of a two-year-old girl, shouting: “That belongs to the Islamic State.” Naturally the people are scarred by this. The children cry when they hear the aircraft at the nearby airport. They think they are bombers. As soon as they have settled in here a bit, I will try to provide them with psychological help.”



ACN has been supporting Pastor Khalil Jaar and his work for many years. And today too, the Catholic pastoral charity does not leave him alone with his task. “I try to support the people not only in terms of their material needs. I am also concerned to give them psychological strength. We try to give the children distractions, by taking them to an open-air swimming pool for example. But above all I wish to strengthen them in their faith. This is the time to show that we are shepherds who care for Christ’s flock.”



Pastor Khalil also calls on the faithful of his parish to be generous to the newcomers. “At every Mass I preach that these are our brethren. The people should re-consider whether they really need all the things that they have, or if they could not share them with the refugees. And the people give help,” the priest says with gratification. “And one can always give a smile.” But Pastor Khalil is thinking beyond the first emergency aid.

The refugees will probably have to stay in Jordan for a long time before they can return to Iraq, or – as the majority want – migrate to the West. “The people need health care. And the children must go to school. And, as a Church, we must rely on our own resources. It is not easy to manage all these things. But providence will come to our aid, as it has done in the past.”


20.08.2014 in ACN Canada, ACN International, ACN PRESS, ACN SPECIAL SERIES, Aid to refugees, Iraq
To make a donation to ACN for refugees

To make a donation by please call: (514) 932-0552 or toll free 1-(800) 585-6333
or click the image to make a secure on-line donation.


“I want to stay in Iraq, I love it.” 

By Maria Lozano, ACN International,

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada


This morning we [the Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) delegation], left Ankawa and Erbil with their concentration of tens of thousands of refugees, and drove with Archbishop Emil Nona of the Chaldean Archdiocese of Mosul to the area of Dohuk north of Mosul where the refugees are spread out over many villages. He, too, is a refugee, having been absent from Mosul while attending a youth meeting in another Christian village, when the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) took over. Like so many of his faithful, he had to leave everything behind.

The usual way to Dohuk is through Mosul, but with ISIS still holding occupation of the city and surrounding areas, we took a more mountainous route passing at times just 20 km from where ISIS is located. Despite this, there were only a few military check-points through which we passed very easily. In the distance we could see the Christian town of Alqosh, which has for the most part been abandoned by its inhabitants in anticipation of ISIS’s arrival.


For my children’s sake

Our first visit of the day was in the village of Mangesh just north of Dohuk. Twenty-five years ago this was an entirely Christian village until Sadam Hussein brought in so many Kurds that the Christians became a minority. Today the Christian families number about 300 and they were joined recently by some 77 Syrian Orthodox families, who fled their village close to the village of Alqosh on August 6.


One of the men from the village had already gone out three days earlier in search of a safe refuge for these families and per chance discovered the village of Mangesh. When they heard bombardments on August 6 – which was their sign to leave – they were very thankful when the parish priest of Mangesh, Fr. Yoshia Sana, offered them the Catholic catechetical centre as a temporary home. When we arrived at the centre their Orthodox priest expressed their gratitude to Msgr. Nona for the kindness and generosity they received. They are still in need of more tents and some ventilators and Msgr. Nona promised to get some for them. As in Erbil, temperatures were soaring to over 43° C and in one case 7 families were sharing one tent. One man told us that he wants this situation to end, “Not for my sake, but for my children’s sake.”  One woman with three disabled children was crying and saying she wanted to go back to her village but she was afraid to return.




The generosity of Christian families


During the rest of the day, we visited several more villages with Fr. Yoshia and Fr. Samir Youssef, parish priest in a neighbouring parish and listened to the anquish of the refugees, who had fled from Mosul, Alqosh, Telkef, Telascof and so many others. We saw the cramped conditions under which they live and heard of the generosity of other Christian families, who share their own often humble homes with one or two other families.

We went to one village, Baghere, where the priests had only just discovered 47 refugee families. Among them were one-month old twins, coming into the world as refugees.



Concern for their children

All these people told the same story of how they had left Mosul with nothing, often fleeing in panic once they realized that the 60,000 government troops had gone. They spoke of their concern for their children. One man introduced us to his two daughters who have been studying at the university in Mosul – one of them a medical student with 15 other Christian students in her class. Some 8,000 of the approximately 40,000 students at the university in Mosul are Christian. Will they be able to return?


Some of the refugees spoke about wanting to leave Iraq believing that they have no future in the country and disappointed by the attitude of their former Muslim neighbours, who robbed their homes once they had left. Others said they wanted to stay; they want to go back to their villages and homes, but only if there is an international peace-keeping force ready to protect them.  As the day went on, this same wish was repeated several times. One young fifteen year-old girl, Ronda, looked surprised when we asked her if she wanted to leave. “I want to stay in Iraq,” she said, “I love it.”



Press Release: Iraq – “Hope for Christians in Iraq – but only if we act now”

18.08.2014 in ACN International, Aid to refugees, Iraq

Montreal/Erbil, Monday August 18, 2014 –“If we do not want to be silent witnesses to the last chapter of the history of Christendom in Iraq, the international community must respond decisively now,” said Johannes Freiherr Heereman, President of the international aid organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), after returning from the Iraqi city of Erbil.

By Maria Lozano, ACN International

Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, ACN Canada


Heereman had travelled to Iraq on the invitation of Msgr. Louis Sako, Patriarch of Babylon, to obtain a picture of the situation and the needs of the more than 100,000 Christians who had been displaced and had now found refuge in Ankawa, the Christian quarter of Erbil, and in the villages in the north of Duhok and Zakho. “The situation is dramatic. We met bishops, priests, nuns and volunteers who are working day and night to provide elementary aid. Temperatures are around 44 degrees. The people need roofs over their heads and medical care. There is still much to be done,” Heereman reports.


However, as well as the necessary emergency humanitarian aid, one must also ponder how Christians and other minorities in Iraq can be helped to ensure that such a drama does not recur. “Many of them have already travelled a long road of oppression and suffering. They are disheartened and only want to get away. They beg for help to obtain visas to enter other countries. But there are also still many who wish to return to their homes, which have often been looted by their neighbours – they wish to go back to the place where they have lived for generations and where their history and roots are; They left everything behind when they fled, and yet they want to go back,” says Heereman.

“There is still hope for the Christians in Iraq, but only if we act now,” is the message from Patriarch Louis Sako to the President of ACN. The aid organization therefore appeals to the Western world to take moral responsibility to come to the aid of Christians and other religious minorities who wish to stay, by ensuring their protection and security. “This cannot remain simply the concern of the Church in Iraq. We must not be silent witnesses to a destruction that is now reaching the scale of a disaster of civilization. One can certainly speak of an impending genocide. The Church can alleviate pain and want, but questions of security and defence as well as the right to life and religious freedom are a political matter,” Heereman emphasizes.

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ACN dispatched a second emergency aid package of $146,000 for Iraqi Christians just 10 days ago, especially for those who are now refugees as a result of Islamist terror group IS (Islamic State) actions. The first emergency aid package of $146,000 was granted in June of this year.