Representatives of our organization and the Knights of Columbus met at the United Nations Feb. 26, 2018 with Mr. Mourad Wahba, assistant secretary general at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), to brief him and his staff on the needs of Christians and minority populations on the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq.
We focused on the ongoing challenges for Christians seeking to return to their homes; highlighted the urgency for a coordinated response to preserve these minority communities; and offered our expertise on the ground. Aid to the Church in Need and the Knights of Columbus are the largest single contributors to the well-being of the remaining 95,000 Christian Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in northern Iraq. Combined, the two organizations gave $50 million in aid since the 2014 invasion of northern Iraq by ISIS.
Mr. Wahba, who reports directly to the UN secretary general, outlined the anticipated expansion of UNDP programs in the Nineveh Plains, stating: “We recognize the need for greater cooperation for the stabilization of the Nineveh Plains, and the need to support religious diversity as a bulwark against the return of ISIS.” The official also stressed the importance of the enduring presence in the region of Christians and other minorities and welcomed more cooperation in Iraq between public and private sectors.
Our Secretary General Mr. Philipp Ozores said: “We welcome the increase of urgently needed institutional involvement to end the ordeal Christians of Nineveh. For too long this help has depended on private donors alone.”
From 2014 to 2018, we have given $38 million dollars in emergency aid to meet the needs of the Christian IDPs who had fled the Nineveh Plains. Today, in light of the wish this populations to return home, we will provide an additional $5 million to renovate 2000 Christian homes on the Nineveh Plains; however, an additional 11,000 homes have either been damaged or destroyed under ISIS occupation and during the fighting to oust the terror group.
—Mark von Riedemann