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    » 02/25/2010, 00.00

    IRAQ

    Bishop of Mosul: humanitarian emergency. Hundreds of Christian families fleeing violence



    Mgr Nona speaks of an “unending Via Crucis”. The archdiocese helps the refugees with basic necessities, but "the situation is dramatic." The prelate will go to Baghdad to seek the intervention of the central government. Mgr Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, will launch a "demonstration and a fast" to remember "the massacre of Iraqi Christians."

    Mosul (AsiaNews) - Mosul is experiencing a veritable "humanitarian emergency" in just one day, yesterday, "hundreds of Christian families" left the city in search of shelter, leaving behind their homes, property, commercial activities: the situation "is dramatic". Bishop Emil Shimoun Nona, Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, confirmed to AsiaNews about the exodus of the faithful from the city. Meanwhile, Mgr. Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, will launch "a demonstration and a fast", to sensitize the international community to the "massacre of Iraqi Christians" and stop the violence in the country.  

    The archbishop of Mosul is concerned about the many families, "hundreds" in one day yesterday, leaving the city. Bishop Nona speaks of an " unending via Crucis” and denounces the "change in methods" operated by the armed gangs. "In the past we said to the Christians to remain closed in the house – he remembers - but now they are even attacked in their own homes”.  The reference is to the murder took place last February 23: commandos entered the house of Aishwa Marosi, a Christian of 59, killing the man and two boys. His wife and daughter witnessed the murder but were spared by the criminals.

    Bishop Nona confirms the risk that "Mosul will be emptied completely of Christians”, who are fleeing towards the plain of Nineveh and other places considered safer. "Yesterday I visited some families – he continues - I have tried to bring comfort, but the situation is dramatic. The people fled without taking anything with them”. This is why the local archdiocese has launched an initial emergency response, trying to provide "essential supplies and relief", but the danger of "a humanitarian crisis is real."  

    The archbishop of Mosul plans to travel to Baghdad to meet with politicians and the central government, to demand their intervention. It is difficult to maintain the Christian presence, he continues, and it is likely that the general elections - scheduled for March 7 - no one will vote. The confining of Iraq’s Christians in the Nineveh Plain, victims of a power struggle between Arabs and Kurds, seems an increasingly concrete likelihood, although the Church leaders have always been opposed to this "ghettoisation". So far, the warring factions have used the excuse of religion and armed gangs to drag the Christians into the conflict. "For this - concluded Mgr. Nona – we now need to find a 'political response' to the conflicts, the struggle for power.”

    Archbishop Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, plans to launch – in the next few days - "a demonstration and a fast", to sensitize the international community to the "massacre of Iraqi Christians" and stop the violence in the country. The policy that aims to see Mosul emptied of Christians must be stopped, negotiations with the central government and local parliament started to enhance "the idea of national unity" that is lost in the conflicts between different ethnicities, religions and influences foreign in a shattered Iraq. The prelate confirms the will of the Christian community to "participate in the political life of the country", while there is an increasingly concrete danger that they will be considered "second-class citizens."  

    The general elections scheduled for March 7 will cause an even greater escalation of violence. The warring parties - Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds – are sparing no methods or use of force to gain control of the territory. Baghdad, like Mosul and Kirkuk, is tempting for its many rich deposits of oil. Sectarian violence in Mosul, also does not seem linked to al Qaeda, but rather confirms the infiltration in the army and police of "big powers" that are aligned to political parties, religious denominations, or to the tribes. They are a clear indication of the failure to create a unitary state, the "Republic of Iraq" mentioned in the Constitution, but never born because of internal divisions. Added to this the external pressures from neighbouring countries including Iran: Baghdad AsiaNews sources confirm that "Tehran has both hands in the internal politics of Iraq" and is an influence that touches the economic, political and religious sphere.  

    "There is a state, a home - underlines Msgr. Sako - and sectarian divisions are an obvious fact. Christians who are not interested in power games, economic hegemony, but the creation of a State in which the different ethnic groups can live together peacefully. " An objective to be achieved, must begin first of all with "the unity of the Christian community and Church leaders, who must make their unity a strength at the bargaining table with the central government and the political forces of the country ". (DS)

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    See also

    03/05/2010 IRAQ
    Car bomb targets Christian student’s bus near Mosul
    The toll is one dead and 100 wounded. For over five years the University of Mosul has been in the sights of Islamic extremists who want to convert students and kill the girls who do not wear the veil.

    02/02/2009 IRAQ
    Provincial elections in Iraq: no incidents at polling places. Allies of prime minister in lead
    The elections for the renewal of the provincial councils proceeded smoothly. 51% of eligible voters went to the polls. In Mosul as well, there were no episodes of violence against the Christian community, the target of kidnappings and persecution. January of 2009 was the month with the fewest killings since 2003, and violence has fallen by 42% since December of 2008.

    06/08/2007 IRAQ
    Mosul, "focal point" of Wahabi extremism in Iraq
    Iraqi sources warn: the city is in the hands of rigid Sunni fundamentalists, who aim for an Islamic State; Christians and Shiites, find no space while the “kidnapping industry” gathers pace. The family of a kidnapped Chaldean has already paid a ransom twice over, but there is still no trace of the hostage.

    01/03/2010 IRAQ
    Iraqi Christians demonstrate, fast against killings and the Nineveh “ghetto”
    People gather, pray and fast across Iraq against “targeted killings.” The archbishop of Mosul asks for security and an investigation into those who are responsible for the slaughter. For the archbishop of Kirkuk, the Muslim community must react and take concrete actions. The auxiliary bishop of Baghdad warns that Christians risk a holocaust at a fundamental moment.

    01/06/2007 IRAQ
    Terrorists sack and occupy a convent in Baghdad
    It took place yesterday in Dora quarter; in a convent of the Chaldean sisters of the Sacred Heart. Local sources tell AsiaNews that Shiite groups are suspected, as they mimic the fierce Sunni campaign of persecution against Christians in the capital. Today the first session of the Chaldean Church Synod opens in al Qosh.



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