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    » 12/09/2015, 00.00

    IRAQ

    Erbil’s Catholic University to counter the Christian exodus from Mosul



    Archbishop Warda talks to AsiaNews about the new facility. At a time of Christian suffering, persecution and exodus in Iraq, the university provides "a strong motive to stay”. The Italian Bishops’ Conference gave € 2.3 million for the project. The new university’s programmes include oriental studies, information technology, languages ​​and economics. Yesterday’s official opening coincided with the feast of the Immaculate.

    Erbil (AsiaNews) – “Our beloved Christian community has so many reasons to leave Iraq today. This is why this university is a strong motive to stay. We all have a great responsibility to give them reasons to stay. I am therefore convinced that this university is a sign of hope," said Mgr Bashar Warda, Archbishop of Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

    Since the Islamic State (IS) group seized Mosul and the Nineveh Plain, hundreds of thousands of people have fled to Iraqi Kurdistan. However, the foundation stone of the Catholic University in Erbil was laid in the fall of 2012, in Ankawa, a Christian town north of Erbil, on a three square km area provided by the Chaldean Church.

    The decision to build the college stems from a desire to set up a place for scientific research. The university itself is open to anyone who wants to pursue higher education and training, including young refugees.

    Yesterday, 8 December, the solemnity of the Immaculate, Archbishop Warda and Mgr Nunzio Galantino, secretary general of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI), took part in the official opening ceremony in the presence, among others, of Iraqi Kurdistan’s Education Minister Goran Yousif and Interior Minister Karim Sinjri.

    Mgr Galantino was in Erbil on a three-day visit, which ended today. The Italian Bishops allocated € 2.3 million (US$ 2.5 million) to the project.

    Today, students were able to visit the facility to find out more about the facility and its programmes.

    The first courses offered at the university will be in economics, computer science and Eastern languages ​​and literature. Plans are in the works for a faculty of law and international relations in a not too distant future.

    For Mgr Galantino, the school will lay "the foundation of a new history and a promising future" for the local community, which, after the violence and suffering of the last year and a half, is preparing to celebrate its second Christmas away from its homes and land.

    The new Catholic educational facility in Erbil, not far from the refugee camps in Ankawa, “will be open to everyone,” said Mgr Warda. “Every year, it will welcome at least 250 students."

    “I hope that all the students – Christians, Muslims, Yazidis – will be able to breathe the Catholic faith and its fundamental values,” the prelate told AsiaNews.

    The facility will have various departments: "oriental studies, information technology, languages, education and business administration." It will also host young people from Mosul and the Nineveh Plain.

    "The first activities of the Catholic University will start this Friday, 11 December,” the prelate added. “Some 96 courses will be available in Biblical and theological studies. They will be open to refugees aged 18 to 40. We expect some 300 people." (DS)

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    See also

    05/01/2015 IRAQ
    Way of the Cross: the refugees from Mosul beyond the emergency
    There are at least half a million people who have taken refuge in Kurdistan to flee from ISIS. In the Shlama Mall at Erbil: 350 people living in the skeleton of a building under construction, with draped sheets and blankets serving as walls. The ordination of a young man, also a refugee, shows that with the flight, there is something that has not been destroyed: the faith, the traditions, the priesthood.

    01/06/2009 IRAQ
    Iraqi Kurdistan begins exporting “its” oil
    The crude oil is being piped from Kirkuk to Turkey. The operation was given the go ahead by the central government which in the past had cancelled all contracts signed by the Kurdish government. All proceeds from the energy sector make up 90% of Iraqi GDP. The aim is to pass from 2.2 million barrels to 6 million a day, in five years.

    23/07/2013 IRAQ
    Kurdistan: 'Islamic' ambulance driver refuses to take the body of a Christian woman to church
    The woman's body had to be transported from a hospital in Erbil to an Assyrian Church in Ankawa. In the country, violence is up as Sunnis and Shias clash. Some 500 prisoners, many of them members of Al Qaeda already sentenced to death, escape.

    31/12/2009 IRAQ
    Nouri al-Maliki and the conundrum of Kirkuk
    The forthcoming visit of Prime Minister to Kurdistan is hope for a reconciliation with Baghdad. But Kirkuk, which owns 25% of Iraqi oil, is in the sights of Arabs and Turkmen. Iran fears a Kurdish state power, the U.S. fear a conflagration that could delay their departure from Iraq in 2011.

    29/07/2014 IRAQ
    Patriarch Sako: In the end, peace, not war, will win in Mosul
    The Patriarch, together with a delegation of French prelates in Erbil, came to be among the families of Christians expelled by jihadists. "I bring Pope Francis' solidarity and love," he said. Shias are persecuted in Mosul as well. Their shrines and places of worship have been destroyed as well. The city is suffering from fuel and power shortages.



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