ICC Note: There is a growing sense of moral corruption among Christian internally displaced in Iraq, especially among the younger generation. Many have been living in camps for a year or more. The Islamic State overran Qaraqosh last August forcing Fr. Bashar Kthea to run east to Kurdish-controlled territory. The priest now ministers to more than 1,700 Syriac Catholic families who are suffering and frustrated with the living conditions they have endured for far too long.
07-22-2015 Iraq (Ankawa): When the Islamic State overran the Iraqi town of Qaraqosh last August, one of the priests there jumped into his car and joined the exodus of Christians on the road east in the hope of reaching the safety of Kurdish-controlled territory.
Fr. Bashar Kthea, 39, a Syriac Catholic priest, poses for a photo July 17 in Irbil, Iraq. Initially living in his car after fleeing the town of Qaraqosh, Iraq, last August, when Islamic State forces overran it, he now ministers in a camp for displaced Christians in a Kurdish-controlled part of the country.
Little did Fr. Bashar Kthea, a Syriac Catholic priest, know that for the next three months that car would be his home, the place where he would sleep, eat and keep his few possessions.
He now lives with fellow priests and is ministering to more than 1,700 predominantly Syriac Catholic families who occupy a part of the refugee camp at Ankawa, near the Kurdish capital of Irbil, which has become known as the “Youth Center.”
It must have struck him that their present situation is little better — and in some ways perhaps worse — than his own nearly a year ago.
The 39-year-old priest’s witness of the squalor and frustrations that Iraqi Christians continue to face after nearly a year in the camp was relayed to Catholic News Service through fellow refugee Sahar Mansour, a Chaldean Catholic from Mosul in a July email.