Aid to the Church in Need’s Work in the Middle East
The work of ACNUSA on behalf of Christians in the Middle East is essential in ensuring that Christianity will survive in two countries, Iraq and Syria, where the faithful have been victims of harsh persecution by ISIS and other jihadist groups. Many thousands of Christians have lost their homes and are living as IDPs or as refugees in Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan. Their plight continues to prompt many to emigrate to the West.
An enduring—and eventually flourishing—Christian presence in the Middle East is essential to preserve an ancient heritage in the lands where the faith was born; what’s more, the Christian community has always played the role of peace-maker between the warring factions of Shiite and Sunni Muslims; Christian schools and social services make invaluable contributions to society by serving the entire community, regardless of faith; the Christian faith promotes tolerance, democracy, respect for human rights, in particular freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.
ACNUSA focuses on the resettlement of Iraqi Christian IDPs in the nine Christian towns on the Nineveh Plains, from which they were expelled by the invasion of ISIS in the summer of 2014.
ACNUSA concretely aids this process through:
The repair and/or rebuilding of 3,000 Christian homes that were deliberately damaged by ISIS or that sustained damage during the liberation of the territory. A total of 13,000 homes needed either repair or rebuilding. As of May 2018, almost 40,000 Christians (more than 8700 families) have moved back to the Nineveh Plains, with some 10,000 families waiting to be resettled.
In addition, ACNUSA will focus its efforts on helping fund the repair of numerous schools, churches, monasteries, convents, seminaries and shrines on the Nineveh Plains, in addition to providing priests and nuns with living expenses.
Already, since the summer of 2014—when Mosul and the Nineveh Plains fell to ISIS—ACN has contributed more than $35M in support of Iraqi Christians, mostly to house and feed more than 100,000 Christian IDPs who found refuge in Chaldean Archdiocese of Erbil, Kurdistan.
ACNUSA is positioning itself to embark on a similar program of rebuilding and reconstruction, giving new life to devastated Christian communities across the country, many of whose members have died, have been displaced inside the country or have gone to Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey as refugees.
That renewal process in Syria cannot fully begin until genuine peace has returned to the country; until then, ACNUSA focuses its efforts on continued humanitarian aid to suffering populations. Modest beginnings have been made to repair and rebuild damaged and destroyed homes, churches, monasteries and seminaries.
ACNUSA is also supporting numerous initiatives through which local Churches provide people with medical care. In major cities, like Aleppo and Homs, ACNUSA is also lending its support to economic development, giving local small business owners a chance to restart their business or launch new ones. Another priority is the support of Church-run schools that need refurbishing and repair if not outright reconstruction.
In Lebanon, ACNUSA works closely with the local Churches to meet the needs of the many thousands of Syrian Christian refugees who fled their country’s civil war—providing them with pastoral care as well as with humanitarian assistance.
Jordan & Turkey
On a smaller scale, ACNUSA is also active in meeting the needs of both Iraqi and Christian refugees who made their way to Jordan and Turkey. As is the case for all the projects ACNUSA funds in the Middle East, local project partners—bishops or patriarchs—are in charge of administering the projects on the ground.
Israel & Palestine
In the Holy Land, ACNUSA support mostly comes in the form of pastoral aid for the local Church, including the tiny community of Catholics in the Gaza Strip.
In Egypt, ACNUSA supports the Catholic Coptic minority with funds to construct churches and chapels in the face of great difficulties the local community has in obtaining building permits. ACNUSA also supports a number of Catholic schools, the majority of whose students are Muslims.
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