Christian volunteers help Muslim refugees near Mosul

The initiative is titled ‘Let's build bridges of peace and tear down the walls of hatred’, and is one of many activities planned for Christmas. Clothing and basic necessities were delivered to the Khazir camp, just outside Mosul. For a Chaldean priest, acts of solidarity represent a "light" of living together at the end of the "tunnel" of hatred and extremism.


Mosul (AsiaNews) – With Christmas "knocking on our doors", a group of young Christians from Bakhdida (Baghdeda), in Qaraqosh, Nineveh governorate (northern Iraq), undertook an initiative titled ‘Let's build bridges of peace and tear down the walls of hatred’.

To achieve their goal, the volunteers are collecting clothes and basic necessities for adults, and toys for children, to bring to the residents of the Khazir refugee camp, near Mosul, which is still taking in families displaced by the rise of the Islamic State (IS) group.

This and other projects by young Muslims – like cleaning churches by Sawaed al-Museliya volunteers – are a confirmation of the renewed climate of collaboration and trust between young people from different religious backgrounds.

This new spirit has emerged in Mosul, a former IS stronghold and "capital" of the Caliphate, and  could be the harbinger of a "renaissance" for the city and Iraq at a time when Christians are still tempted to leave.

"The Christmas initiative", as Christians have renamed it, seeks to bring some comfort during the holiday to the residents of the Khazir camp, set up when operations to free the Nineveh governorate began.

More than 6,000 families, mostly Muslim, from Ba'aj and Rabia districts and Zammar sub-district in Mosul, live in the camp.

This is an important step for northern Iraq’s various communities as they look for ways to live side by side. In fact, the initiative found an echo on social media as people responded to repeated appeals for help with even small donations or financial contributions.

This show of solidarity for the displaced comes after Iraq’s Migration Ministry closed several refugee camps, endangering the very survival of tens of thousands of families living in conditions of extreme need.

The initiative started 10 days ago and met with widespread support and help from various communities in the Nineveh Plain and Ankawa, Erbil’s Christian district, Iraqi Kurdistan.

“This is one of the many initiatives implemented by Christians, especially young people, to promote living together,” said Fr Paul Thabit Mekko, head of the Christian community in Karemlash (Karamles), speaking to AsiaNews.

Examples like this “are of great help and show that there is a light at the end of the tunnel” after years of extremist violence and sectarian attacks that have deeply marked Iraqi society.

“Now we need to strengthen and transform this light into a fire that spreads to more and more layers of society to guarantee a future for Christians in the region" in the face of the still present danger of a massive exodus.

"I personally know Jameel al-Jameel, one of the promoters of the initiative in the refugee camp, inhabited only by Muslims,” the Chaldean priest explained.

“He is a very active young man, writes poetry, works hard to build bridges, boost living together, and has been able to build up many good relationships over time, with Muslims as well.

"The country’s future can and must start from these people, who are involved in social outreach, who want to make the voice of the people heard, even more so if they are young people and of different faiths.”