The Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, a Vatican-sposnored group which publishes AsiaNews, a respected source of news on the Church in Asia, is seeking funds to help Christians.
Msgr. Amel Nona, the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, Iraq, where thousands of Christians are refugees, and who is also a refugee himself, wishes to thank publicly all the donors to an AsiaNews campaign to provide assistance to the persecuted. The situation is increasingly difficult given the huge number of refugees and now the arrival of winter and snow, making outdoor shelters and tents impossible.
Archbshop Nona, who is currently a refugee in Kurdistan, has written a letter to AsiaNews, a Vatican news agency for the Church’s missions in Asia, thanking AsiaNews for a first consignment of aid, which he has accepted as President of the Bishop’s Committee for aid distribution.
The letter is addressed to AsiaNews, but the Archbishop thanks “every single donor” — and there are thousands — who have shown solidarity with their situation.
This solidarity is important not only in economic terms, but also spiritually, because it means people understand the importance “that the Christians of this country have the right to live like other men, with dignity and in freedom.”
The situation on the ground is still very dramatic and is becoming increasingly difficult: from the abject poverty to the dwindling of meager resources, from the lack of housing for tens of thousands of people, to the onset of winter, with plummeting temperatures and snows which make any outdoor shelter or temporary tents uninhabitable.
Archbishop Nona and the Church in Kurdistan are making a huge effort to meet these needs, stretching themselves beyond their means since the Church “is not a powerful international humanitarian organization.” The archbishop is hoping that a solution for the refugees may soon be found that will allow them to return to their homes taken over by the Islamic State (IS) militia. But he is particularly aware that prayer can transform “our crisis” into “an opportunity to unite all Christians, making us active in our faith.”
Faced with the continuation of this emergency, AsiaNews is continuing its “Adopt a Christian from Mosul” campaign. (To help the campaign, please see the box on the next page.)
Here, is the text of Archbishop Nona’s letter of thanks to all who have helped:
“I want to let you know that on September 9, 2014, I received the sum of 279,219 Euros sent by you through the “Adopt a Christian from Mosul” campaign to help our Christians in Mosul and the Nineveh plain who are now refugees in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
“As head of the bishops’ committee that organizes humanitarian aid to Christians refugees, on my own behalf and on behalf of all the bishops who are members of this committee — Catholics and non-Catholics — I thank you and all the donors who have borne witness to the reality of the Christian faith, through the gift that you have offered to support the Christians of Iraq, in their dignity, in their lives.
“Our situation is really dramatic, because all of these people, our faithful, have been stripped of everything: houses, property, jobs, churches… And have arrived in Kurdistan with nothing.
“Such a situation can be endured for a short period, but with the passage of time, without a solution to the area controlled by ISIS, many problems and difficulties emerge.
“People have lost confidence in the nation, in their own land, in their neighbors, in the authorities…
“Humanitarian aid is dwindling with each passing day and the refugees feel increasingly in need. It is no longer possible to go on living in tents, or in public parks, or in schools, because the season is changing and winter is knocking at the door. We have a lot of homeless people and not even a roof to cover them.
“We are trying to find a solution to the housing problem, but we cannot accommodate everyone because the numbers are huge: we are not a powerful international humanitarian organization, although all our Christians insistently ask us to help them.
“Our possibilities are limited because the whole country is going through a difficult phase of religious and ethnic division, accompanied by a real civil war and mutual distrust among the political and social parties.
“Ever since the first day of the crisis, the Church has been doing everything possible to find a true and worthy response for her children. And we thank God that despite many difficulties we have organized, at least for a while, aid for our people, trying to give them the minimum to live as human beings, always hoping for a quick and just solution for our land.
“Your participation in solidarity, gives us strength not only because it helps us physically — and this is important — but also because we feel that we have Christian brothers and sisters close to us, who comprehend just how important it is that Christians in this country have the right to live like other men, with dignity and freedom.
“Once again I thank you all, praying to the Lord that our crisis is an opportunity to unite all Christians, making us active in our faith.
May the Lord bless you.”
+ Amel NONA
Archbishop of Mosul of the Chaldeans
September 14, 2014
AsiaNews has launched a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and to Pope Francis’s urgent appeal “to guarantee all necessary assistance — especially the most urgently needed aid — to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others.” More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
The situation is a “humanitarian catastrophe, which threatens to become a real genocide,” Mar Louis Sako, Patriarch of Baghdad, told AsiaNews as he described the flight of Christians from Mosul and Qaraqosh, in the Nineveh Plain. The Army of the Islamic caliphate has forced more than 100,000 people to leave their homes and belongings, fleeing to Kurdistan, their lives threatened.
“An exodus, a real via crucis, Christians are walking on foot in Iraq’s searing summer heat […] the sick, the elderly, infants and pregnant women among them. […] They need food, water and shelter…” Thousands of Christian families have had to flee because of threats to their life unless they converted to Islam, or paid the jizya, the poll tax imposed on those who are “protected” under a strict interpretation of Sharia law. As they fled, they had to leave everything to their tormentors.
Faced with such a tragedy, Pope Francis has continued to send messages of solidarity and issued appeals to the international community to stop the violence and abuses against Iraq’s Christian community.
In October, the Pope urgently called “on the international community to protect all those affected or threatened by the violence, and to guarantee all necessary assistance — especially the most urgently needed aid — to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others.”
AsiaNews has decided to respond to this appeal by raising funds for our brothers and sisters who have been robbed of their right to life and liberty. To feed a Christian from Mosul takes about 160 € (US$ 215) a month; 40 € (US$ 54) a week; and 5 € (US$ 7) a day.
We invite all our readers and friends to play their part, going beyond indignation and condemnation, expressing our solidarity through our support to Iraqi Christians. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, who will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
For the Patriarch of Baghdad, it is important in this emergency to help Christians stay in Iraq than leave the country. Iraq and the Middle East need the witness of Christians.
Donations can be made in several ways. All should indicate the reason for payment as “AsiaNews – Adopt a Christian from Mosul”:
– Via credit card with PayPal – Via credit card on website (see feature: “Donation – Donate”)
– Via Italian postal account no. 45443009 Payable to the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, indicating reason for payment to “AsiaNews — Adopt a Christian from Mosul”
– Via bank transfer to AsiaNews
– Account no. 6152510434/77 c/o Banca Intesa – Branch 499 Address: Via G. Carini 32/D – 00152 Roma RM
Bank Code: Z 03069 05078 615251043477
IBAN Code: IT35 Z030 6905 0786 1525 1043 477
Swift Code: BCI TIT MM Indicate reason for payment as “AsiaNews — Adopt a Christian from Mosul”
-Via bank draft, addressed to AsiaNews c/o PIME Via Guerazzi 11 00152 Ro