Baghdad (AsiaNews) - The Islamic state militia have killed at least 500 members of the Yazidi minority, dumping many of their bodies in mass graves, some of them were buried alive. This latest tragedy was reported by the Iraqi Human Rights Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, according to whom about 300 women have been abducted by jihadis and kept in conditions of slavery. Other sources speak of dozens of children (more than 50) who have died from dehydration.
Some good news has arrived from Mount Sinjar, where at least 20 thousand of the 40 thousand Yazidi surrounded by the militia were able to find a way to save themselves, fleeing first to Syria and then return to Iraqi Kurdistan.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Christians have fled their homes in Mosul and other cities of the north, to escape the advance of Islamic fundamentalists who demand their conversion to Islam or their death.
In an attempt to respond to the humanitarian emergency, AsiaNews has launched the "Adopt a Christian from Mosul" campaign as a concrete way to respond to the drama unfolding in the Arab nation and support the faithful targeted by the Islamic State. Even in yesterday's Angelus Pope Francis again strongly condemned the violence against Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq. He said the news reports coming from the nation provoke "dismay and disbelief".
The pontiff spoke of the pain and suffering of the people who have fled from Mosul and Qaraqosh in recent days: "Thousands of people, including many Christians, driven from their homes in a brutal manner; children dying of thirst and hunger in their flight; women taken and carried off; violence every kind; destruction of historical, cultural and religious patrimonies. All this gravely offends God and humanity. Hatred is not to be carried in the name of God! War is not to be waged in the name of God!". The Pope has named Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples Cardinal Fernando Filoni his Personal Envoy to Iraq. The cardinal, in the past, was nuncio in Baghdad.
Meanwhile, the Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, Mar Louis Raphael I Sako has launched a new appeal to the international community, in which he talks about the increasingly "alarming" situation of refugees, forced to flee their homes as a result of the advance of the militia of the Islamic Caliphate. The Patriarch warns that "the need for basic necessities grows exponentially," he criticizes the "lack of international coordination" and terms the position taken by Barack Obama and the United States government "disappointing".
Below we publish the full text of the heartfelt appeal penned by the Chaldean Patriarch and entrusted to AsiaNews:
Death and sickness are grabbing the children and elderly people among the thousands of refugee families spread over the Kurdistan Region who lost everything in the recent tragic developments while the ISIS Militants are still advancing and the humanitarian aid is insufficient.
There are seventy thousand displaced Christians in Ankawa along with the other minorities in this city that has a population of more than twenty-five thousand Christians. The families who found shelter inside the churches or schools are in a rather good condition while those who are still sleeping in the streets and public parks are in a deplorable situation...
In Dohuk, the number of Christian refugees' amount to more than 60.000 and their situation is worse than those in Erbil. There are also families who found shelters in Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah, as well as some have arrived as far as in the capital city of Baghdad.
While the humanitarian needs are escalating: housing, food, water, medicine and funds, the lack of international coordination is slowing and limiting the realization of an effective assistance to these thousands awaiting immediate support. The Churches are offering everything within their capacity.
To summarize the situation of the Christian villages around Mosul up to the borders of Kurdistan Region: the churches are deserted and desecrated; five bishops are out of their bishoprics, the priests and nuns left their missions and institutions leaving everything behind, the families have fled with their children abandoning everything else! The level of disaster is extreme.
The position of the American president Obama only to give military assistance to protect Erbil is disappointing. The talks about dividing Iraq are threatening. The Americans are not up to a rapid solution to give hope specifically as they are not going to attack the ISIS in Mosul and in the Nineveh Plain. The confirmation that this terrible situation will continue until the Iraqi Security Forces will fight along with Peshmerga against the ISIS militants is very depressing. The President of the Kurdistan Region said that the Kurdish troops are fighting with a terrorist State and not minor groups! While the country is under fire, the politicians in Baghdad are fighting for power.
At the end, perhaps, Mosul will not be liberated neither the villages in the Nineveh Plain. There is no strategy to dry up the sources of manpower and the resources of these Islamic terrorists. They control the oil town of Zumar and the oil fields of Ain Zalah and Batma along with the oil fields of Al-Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor in Syria. The Islamic extremist fighters are joining them from different countries around the world.
The choices of refugee families:
Migration: where and do they have the necessary documents and money?
To stay: in the halls and in the refugee camps, waiting the summer to end and winter to come? Will the schools be reopened and will their children go to elementary schools, high schools or colleges? Will they be welcomed in the schools in Erbil, Duhok and Sulaymaniyah? What is the future of the properties and belongings, along with the jobs, of these thousands of innocent people forced to fee overnight from their dear villages?
These are questions that should inflict pain in the conscience of every person and organization so that something should be done to save this people that have their history in this land from their beginnings.
* Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad, and President of the Iraqi Bishops' Conference