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ICC Note: Iraq’s Christian community has very little confidence about the future in Iraq. The past three months has seen a nearly total emptying of cities that had been home to Christians for nearly 2,000 years. The Iraqi government that should have provided protection instead abandoned them, leaving tens of thousands fleeing for their lives. Now, living in horrid conditions they are trying to figure out where they will go next.

ICC has launched a campaign to provide aid to the Iraqi church to assist those in need who have fled from the attacks. Go here to find out more and donate: Iraqi Crisis Response

By Stoyan Zaimov

08/26/2014 Iraq (Christian Post) – A Catholic priest described his shock at the conditions Iraqi Christian refugees face, saying that they were left helpless and angry at government soldiers who abandoned them to ISIS extremists after the militants began their attacks.

“The people are angry because the government just gave up on them. They told us that, in Mosul, where there had normally been a presence of 60,000 soldiers, after the onslaught of ISIS, in only a matter of hours, these soldiers abandoned them, laying down their weapons,” said Fr Rami Wakim, the secretary to Melkite Catholic Patriarch Gregoire III Laham, according to The Catholic Herald on Monday.

Last week, the priest accompanied a delegation of Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish region of the country, where scores of persecuted minorities, including many Christians, are fleeing to.

The militant group, which also calls itself the Islamic State, has captured large territories in Iraq and Syria and remains locked in wars with the central governments. The terror group has targeted minorities and captured significant Christian cities like Mosul, giving followers of Christ the option to convert to Islam, pay a tax, or be killed.

Wakim said that the delegation encountered scattered mattresses around church altars and entire churches filled well beyond capacity with refugees, forcing many to spread out into church parking lots and the surrounding streets.

Many of the refugees swarmed around the patriarchs when they came to visit them, asking for blessings and prayers for the sick.

“It was very touching. The (Melkite) patriarch cried many times when he saw these people. He was hugging and kissing them as he cried. Of course, I cried, too. I think all the patriarchs cried because they felt helpless, there was nothing they could do at that very moment,” Wakim said.

The priest, who had been ordained only days earlier in Damascus, said that the situation in Erbil made him realize just how difficult the priestly mission is during such a heavy time.

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