ICC Note: Iraq has always been a country with religious and ethnic diversity, but the attacks of the militants from ISIS (so-called Islamic State), have torn that apart. It’s destroyed the trust that existed between Christians and Muslims a priest said. The people are asking “how they can possibly live with them” and this is a sign of hard times ahead for the country torn by conflict.
01/12/2015 Iraq (Asia News) After experiencing first-hand the violence of Islamic State forces, Christian refugees have “lost trust” in Muslims, and wonder “how they can possibly live with them,” like the “neighbours who, in the days after the escape, looted their homes and took their property,” said Youhanna Issa, a 50-year-old Mosul priest from the Antonian Order of Saint Ormizda of the Chaldeans who spoke to AsiaNews.
Fr Issa is the apostolic administrator of the (vacant) diocese of Aqra, between Erbil and Duhok. Currently, he is working with refugees who fled Mosul and Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain – Tilkief, Karemles, Qaraqosh – following the Jihadist advance.
The village of Mella Baruan, where he lives, used to have 70 families. In recent months, the population more than doubled with at least 80 more families. All said, that is 400 more people who have turned local life upside-down.
Another 50 families found hospitality in a nearby village. “They arrived on 6 and 7 August with the second wave of refugees when Mosul fell into the hands of the terrorists,” Fr Issa said.
Even today, after several months, the situation remains difficult. The Church is in the forefront in the distribution of food aid, and other necessities, like blankets, at a time when winter is starting to bite, because of the cold and the rain. In fact, temperatures are near zero, and many still live in makeshift accommodations. Problems abound every day.
“Christians are suffering a lot,” the Antonian priest said. “They live in abandoned, crumbling houses. Food is sometimes in short supply. There is no money to provide for everyday basic needs. The crisis is here to stay and will not be solved in a few weeks.”