Westminster Cardinal Urges More to be Done to Rebuild Iraqi Christian Community’s Towns and Villages

In a file photo, a Christian Iraqi woman cries after she saw the St. Addai church which was damaged by Islamic State fighters during their occupation of Keramlis village, less than 18 miles southeast of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 13, 2016. (Credit: Hussein Malla/AP.)

England’s top prelate has called for more to be done to rebuild the towns and villages of Iraq’s Nineveh plains after they were destroyed by the Islamic State group.

The region is the heartland of Christianity in the country, and the Christian community was forced to flee after the Islamic State group took over the area in 2014.

After the Islamist militants were pushed out of the region, efforts have been made to move Christian families back into their homes.

However, from a pre-2003 total of 1.5 million, Iraq’s Christian population has declined to fewer than 150,000. Although most have fled abroad, there are hopes that those who sought refuge in Iraq’s relatively peaceful Kurdish regions will be able to return to Nineveh.

“The need to reconstruct towns and villages [in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains] destroyed by Daesh [the name commonly used by Christians for the Islamic State group] and rebuild trust in that region is pressing,” said Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster on May 30.

“We are united in prayer and support for the Christians and other minorities in that region as they seek to rebuild their lives,” he said, noting the Christian presence in the area goes back nearly 2,000 years.

The cardinal’s appeal was made following last week’s visit to the UK by Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, who met with the UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Erbil is located in Iraqi Kurdistan, and Warda has hosted most of the internally displaced Christians from the Nineveh plains.

“Since my visit to Iraq in 2015, when Archbishop Warda hosted us and we visited numerous refugee camps across Erbil, the plight of persecuted Christians and other minorities in those ancient lands has been of particular concern,” Nichols said.

During the May 21 meeting with Hunt, the Chaldean archbishop appealed for the UK Government to provide direct aid to Christians and others who have suffered genocide in Iraq.

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SOURCE: Crux, Charles Collins