Catholic aid groups scramble to help Iraqi Christians
'You name it they need it,' says aid worker
Iraqi Christians light candles affter attending Christmas Mass in Baghdad in 2008 (Photo: Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images)
- Elise Harris for CNA
- July 4, 2014
In a tumultuous Iraq facing an increasingly uncertain future, Catholic charity organizations are rallying to meet the immediate needs of those afflicted by ongoing violence.
“Movement is pretty limited, so all numbers and information we get is anecdotal,” Kris Ozar, correspondent for Caritas Egypt, an international relief agency of the Church, told CNA June 30.
“The one thing that’s certain and that I’m hearing around here is that nobody knows, nobody knows,” he said. “Nobody knows where people are going, nobody knows how long people are staying, people are renting houses but for a temporary time because they’re expensive.”
“It’s a lot of uncertainty, absolutely a lot of uncertainty.”
Although Ozar is officially assigned to Egypt, he has been sent by the organization to Iraq in order to assist in giving aid to refugees. Having fled Mosul only 15 minutes before it was mortared by ISIS June 10, Ozar returned to Egypt briefly, and arrived back to Iraq June 30.
Aiming to establish a Sunni state within Syria and Iraq, which is a majority Shia region, ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Group (ISIS), launched its offensive in Iraq in early June, overtaking its second-largest city of Mosul June 10.
The group now controls much of north and north-central Iraq, including the city of Tal Afar.
Over the weekend, displaced persons who scattered after the June 10 attack at Mosul began to return to the region, with many taking refuge in the neighboring city of Erbil, where they are under the protection of the Kurdish army.
“When I was talking to displaced families it was a buffet of needs,” Ozar noted. “But the greatest needs are food, mattresses, spending money, they need to have cell phone credit to call their families and to be in communication. They have medical needs.”
Since many families are now forced to sleep in local schools, “they need mattresses, they need sheets and blankets, they need soap, they need clothes. You name it they need it.”
Source: Catholic News Agency