Iraq - Create new 'village' for people fleeing ISIS Archbishop
A LEADING archbishop has called for the creation of a huge displacement center, the size of a village, in Kurdish northern Iraq for tens of thousands of people many of them Christians fleeing ISIS.
Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar
Warda of Erbil in Kurdistan said thousands of “mobile homes” erected in his
diocese were vital as the region anticipates a mass influx of people desperate
to escape the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).
His comments come after reports today that
the jihadists had announced the creation of a caliphate, or Islamic state, in
the territory it controls in Iraq and Syria, appointing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as
caliph and “leader for Muslims everywhere.”
The advance of ISIS has prompted a mass exodus from towns and villages
and the BBC reported that 40,000 people fled towns and villages in the Nineveh
plains outside Mosul amid reports of heavy fighting.
Archbishop Warda said that since then, many,
if not most, of the people had returned but added that an influx of people into
Kurdish northern Iraq was highly likely because of the ongoing conflict and
Speaking today in an interview with
Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Warda said: “We are
expecting an influx of people. “It is
not going to be a case of people wanting to stay one day – it will last one
year or up to 18 months. “They cannot
live in tents – especially given so many of them will be elderly and women with
“Creating a village with mobile homes
is necessary to help them.”
“We need to find a site where they can
go and where they have the facilities available to help them.”
With no end in sight to the conflict
which has uprooted so many communities, Archbishop Warda stressed the need for
government unity in the face of the threat from ISIS. He said: “The international community must
put pressure on the Iraqi government to pull themselves together, to put their
past disputes behind them and negotiate.
“This is what is necessary to deal with the
crisis. Everything is not clear. It is chaotic.” Soon after ISIS captured Mosul on June 10th,
Aid to the Church in Need responded by providing $136,900 in emergency help –
food and shelter for many of the Christian families fleeing the city.
The aid project
was overseen by Catholic Chaldean Archbishop Amel Nona of Mosul who fled the
city for the nearby Tal Kayf and began mounting a relief operation amid reports
that 500,000 people were on the move.
Soon after the capture of Mosul by
ISIS, Archbishop Warda said that for the first time in 1,600 years no Sunday
Mass had taken place in the city.
With picture of Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil (©ACN)