07/09/2014, 00.00
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Mosul Archbishop: IDPs without water and electricity, faithful dig wells for Christians and Muslims

Archbishop Emil Nona Shimoun talks to AsiaNews about a situation that is getting worse by the day. Power is available for two to four hours a day. Water shortages have become the norm. Eight wells have been dug but that is "not enough." ISIS militants seize an old chemical weapons factory. Still nothing is known about abducted nuns and children.

Mosul (AsiaNews) - "Today I made ​​a long visit to the diocese, especially in the east, in a parish outside Mosul. It is indeed a source of great sorrow to see how residents and internally displaced people are living. Water and power are in short supply and the situation is tragic," Mgr Shimoun Emil Nona, Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, told AsiaNews,

About 500,000 people, Christians and Muslims, fled the northern Iraqi city last month, causing a humanitarian, economic and political crisis.

Now "The Church is building wells to draw water from underground," the prelate said. So far, ​​"at least eight" have been dug "but they are not enough" to meet everyone's needs, even if "it is better than nothing."

Power supplies comes "two to four hours a day," he explained. For the rest of the day, people make the best with generators.

The prelate, active from the first day in providing support to internally displaced people (IDPs), made it clear that the water wells dug by the local community "are used by everyone, Muslims and Christians, without distinction of any kind".

The work of the Church, he added, "is not just for Christians, but for all the inhabitants, Muslims and members of other ethnic groups."

Mgr Nona renewed his call to pray for the entire Iraqi people, as well as for the nuns and the children kidnapped by Islamist militias.

"There are no substantial news about the abduction," the prelate said, who has called for extreme caution and care with regards to the affair in order to preserve the lives of the hostages.

Meanwhile, the Patriarch of the Chaldean Church Mar Louis Sako Raphael I, who recently launched an appeal for the release of the nuns and orphans in ISIS's hands, left Baghdad for Brussels, after he accepted an invitation from Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

His Beatitude has scheduled official meetings with the Council of European Bishops and with the European Parliament, to discuss the situation in his country and possible interventions to cope with the emergency, particularly in relation to refugees and displaced persons.

Mar Sako was accompanied by Mgr Boutrous Moshe, Syro-Catholic bishop of Mosul, and Mgr Yousif Toma S.J, Chaldean bishop of Kirkuk.

For its part, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Sunni jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda, has seized control of an old chemical weapons factory at Muthanna, north-west of Baghdad. The complex housed part of Saddam Hussein's arsenal (which the US tried to find but never discovered).

After seizing major oil facilities, like the Baiji refinery, north of the capital, and the Haditha dam, which is crucial for the country, Islamist militia now appear poised to seize more government weapons and materiel.

In a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Iraq's UN Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said the rebels took over the complex on 11 June, after disarming soldiers who guarded the site. His government was thus unable to keep its obligations to destroy its chemical weapons.

The document stated that Muthanna's surveillance system showed that there was "looting of some equipment and appliances" at the factory.

It also noted that the government would resume its commitments "as soon as the security situation has improved and control of the facility has been regained".

According to the United States and the United Nations, the material is degraded and Islamists would not be able to use it or obtain chemical warheads.

However, it is believed that some 2,500 rockets filled with nerve agents - including sarin and mustard gas - were stored at Muthanna.

The UN said at least 2,417 Iraqis, including 1,531 civilians, were killed in "acts of violence and terrorism" in June.

More than a million people have fled their homes because of fighting between the army and Islamist militias. (DS)

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