'Our people have been abandoned'-- Chaldean prelate blasts Iraqi government, Muslim leaders
"The reality is that Christians have received no support from the central government. They have done nothing for them, absolutely nothing."
ERBIL (Kurdish Iraq)—The Government of Iraq is guilty of not helping Christians
desperate to flee Islamic State (IS) militia, according to a leading Catholic
bishop from the country.
Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil told international Catholic charity
Aid to the Church in Need that Iraq’s national government in Baghdad “has done
nothing, absolutely nothing” for 120,000 Christians desperate for sanctuary
after fleeing from areas terrorized by the extremists.
Archbishop Warda said
displaced Christians in his diocese and the nearby Dohuk region are
becoming increasingly concerned about their future two months after being
forced to abandon their homes and all their belongings in Mosul and the Niniveh
He said: “The reality
is that Christians have received no support from the central government. They
have done nothing for them, absolutely nothing. The central government is to
blame. It has not fulfilled its commitment to the people. The government in
Baghdad received a lot of help from the international community for the
displaced people from Mosul and Nineveh—but there has been no sign of it here.”
He added that Baghdad was helping displaced Muslims—but not Christians.
The archbishop also
charged that Iraqi Muslim leaders have thus far failed to unequivocally condemn
the violence carried out in the name of Islam, and the ejection of all
Christians from their ancient Biblical homeland.
Citing instances of
long-time Muslims neighbors looting the homes of Christians who had fled their
homes, Archbishop Warda said many of his faithful felt “betrayed” and were now
more likely to flee the country.
He said one Catholic
from Mosul had described watching video footage of a man he recognised as his
friend and neighbour pulling down the cross of a church rendered empty by the
evacuation of Christians.
“We visit the tents everyday and speak to the
people we are helping and they say they would like to go back to their homes
immediately. Bu how can you live again among the people who were your neighbors
who have betrayed you?” Archbishop Warda said a Christian man displaced from
Mosul had been phoned by a neighbor who brazenly told him he had entered his
house and without permission had taken his cash, giving half to ISIS and keeping the rest for himself.
Archbishop Warda said: “We have not had a clear denunciation of [IS] from
Muslim leaders.”He said Muslim leaders
seemed concerned only with how the attacks had undermined Islam’s international
The archbishop said the Kurdish Regional
Government in Erbil had made it clear from the start of the crisis that it
could offer no financial assistance, because the authorities her had stopped
receiving subsidies from Baghdad.
Archbishop Warda, who
alongside other bishops has coordinated a relief program of food and emergency
housing for the displaced people, said the task of aiding Christians had fallen
almost exclusively to the Church. “Church agencies have been here helping us
since day one and they remain with the people long after the headlines have
moved on to something different.”
Archbishop Warda added: “The crisis that has hit Christians from Mosul and
Nineveh is not just a shock. It is for us genocide. All voices have
acknowledged that this is a crime against humanity.”
ACN photo: Archbishop Warda