While a small number of Christians have inhabited Iraq for over 2,000 years, the multiple political conflicts and changes in Iraq have resulted in their displacement and emigration.
However, the taking control of Sinjar and Mosul Dam in northern Iraq by theISIS jihadists has led hundreds of thousands of religious minorities,among which were about one hundred thousand Christians, to leave their homes.
This is one of the worst displacementsIraqi Christians have experienced. They left their homes with three choices: convert to Islam, pay jizya (a poll tax levied on non-Muslims), or die at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), now called IS.
IShave marked Christian houses in Mosul with the phrase "property of the Islamic State" and an Arabic mark for "Nazirite."
More than 200 Christian families have been fleeing Mosul as IS militants confiscated their belongings, including cars, money, medicine, and food.
Where to Go?
This is first question that came to their minds, leaving homes with only the clothes they were wearing. Jordan has welcomed about 1000 Iraqi Christians.
Our Lady of Peace Center in cooperation with Caritas hasopened its doors to welcome about one hundred Christians from 22 Iraqi families. The children number 35: 4 ranging in age from the 1month to 2 years, 21 from 2 to 12years, 10 from 12 to 18 and the rest are parents and old people.
These Christians need not only a place to stay but the simplest basic needs since they have fled their home with practically nothing. Fr. Imad Twal General Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and previous director of OLPC has personally visited them, expressed his support and prayers for them and, most of all,reaffirmed the real desire of LPJ to help them.
What do they need?
· These Christians are really struggling to have the basic necessities of life- food, water, medical supplies and clothing.
· Sanitary services: the welcoming of OLOPC for this number of people imposes a real challenge on the capacity of the facility,including,without doubt, sanitary services.
· The refugee-Christians have a visa to remain in Jordan from 3 to 6months. At that point, they will need a permanent place of residence. But how? They can’t even afford the tickets for travel.
· Education: a good number of these Christians are children. And with the coming academic year, they will need to enroll at schools. An essential right for all children.
· Psychological support:these families have lived a real nightmare since they were terrorized and forced to leave their homes hands empty based on their religious affiliation. The children, especially, need urgent psychological help in order to regain the feeling of security.
· A clear vision for the future: none of these Christians expected such a storm. Where to go? What will happen? For how long? How to manage? How to afford living? These are just some of the many questions that need an answer in planning for the future
· Above all they need our support and prayersand those of the whole world. They need their voices to be heard worldwide,so as to stop this merciless persecution of Christians.
Written by: Rev. Fr. Imad Twal
General Administrator- LPJ August 2014