CRISIS 2014 N. IRAQ - Redemptorists' Fathers in Baghdad

Redemptorists' Fathers in Baghdad
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Detailed Report on the situation of IDPs in KR
One/ The IDP situation
As of the 9th of June, more than 120,000 Christians left their areas, homes, properties, business, and historical areas as a result of the control by ISIS of the city of Mosul and the Plain of Nineveh (PN)
The Christians took refuge in the cities and villages in Kurdistan Region( KR). They made their way to the churches that became packed with thousands of IDPs .Halls, gardens, incomplete building structures, schools, and catechism classrooms were full of them. About 120 Christian villages, that were once half empty, are now full of people.
Church Response
1. As of the first days of the crisis, a committee was set up comprising four catholic and non-Catholic bishops to manage the crisis and coordinate work with various organizations and institutions concerned with the IDP issues. The committee holds regular meetings or when necessary, to take the decisions required to cope with the crisis.
2. A committee was set up comprising priests, nuns, and laymen to follow up the activities of the IDP centers. There are 28 such centers in Erbil, 5 in Duhok, and more than 45 villages in Duhok and Zakho that are overcrowded with IDPs. There are also about 700 families in Kurkuk and Sulaymaniah in addition to the families that live in rented houses all over Erbil, Duhok, and Sulamaiah. The committees work voluntarily 24 hours a day in those centers to follow up, coordinate relief aid, and provide the requirements of the IDPs voluntarily.
3. A data-base was prepared for the IDPs. Statistical information is now available providing information on 95% of the IDPs from various areas.
4. An account number was opened to accept donations from churches and individuals. The funds raised are spent on the urgent needs of the IDPs regardless of the church they belong to. Part of the funding is also spent on the Yezidi IDPs who live in the Christian IDP centers. We hope donations will be made to the committee in a direct way. The funds raised are spent on food and medication according to a very transparent accounting system. Donors can be provided with the required financial reports when requested.
5. Each IDP family living in Erbil will be provided with a rations card this week to ensure that food supplies and other aid reache the families.
6. The areas of Zakho and Duhok need big efforts because the IDPs are distributed over a wide area and in small and dispersed remote villages.
As of the first day of the crisis, the church started to organize the welfare of the IDPs from various aspects:
One : reception of the IDPs and finding an accommodation for them.
Two : ensuring that food supplies reached everybody.
Three: demanding the IDP rights from the federal government and KRG .
Four: help covey the voice of the Christians and their plight to the international community.
The situation, however, is very dire. As for accommodation, a majority of the IDPs live in public parks, halls, and schools. This poses a big problem because schools have already started and it is already necessary to evacuate the public buildings and schools. On the other hand, winter is approaching and it is impossible for the families to remain in the parks during the harsh winter.
The government of Iraq is hardly doing anything alleviate the plight of the IDPs. Compensating the families by ID 1000,000 (US$ 850) is carried out on a very slow pace and according to a very impractical mechanism.
Two: Aid:  There are two kinds of aid that need to be dealt with:
A.Urgent humanitarian aid for (6-9) months
Food Aid:
There is a need for food aid and other life preservants for more than 25,000 families displaced to Duhok, Erbil, Sulaymaniah, and Kirkuk. During the first days of the crisis many humanitarian aid arrived through charity organizations but were soon consumed. The main warehouse in Ankawa has not been supplied with aid for almost the last three weeks. The bishops committee can only afford buying some urgent items. The committee established a central warehouse to receive aid and distribute it on the IDP centers where ever they are . We try to urge everybody to help us in providing the needs of the families.

+ Bashar Warda CSsR
Chaldean Archdiocese of Erbil

2. Housing Project
Through support from donors from Italy, the Chaldean Community in the US as well as Caritas, we started the " family rent " program whereby we began renting houses that would accommodate 2-3 families in buildings that can house (75-100) families. There is a committee which works to rehabilitate the houses before the families are moved into them. The average house rent for one housing unit is (US$ 650-750) according to the residential area where the units are rented. The duration of the program is between (3-9) months taking into consideration the possibility of the return of some families to their original areas when liberated.
3. Health Support
There is a great need for supporting the health situation as there are many people in need of major or small surgical operations. They cannot afford the high costs incurred for such medical operations. On calling the public hospitals, patients have to wait for a long time and often without finding what they need. Drugs are also of urgent importance for the IDPs as they
are sold at relatively very high prices in Iraq. Also other cases like childbirth, junior surgical operations, and chronic diseases need to be supported. The health care situation of children poses a big problem especially at present and future with the change in weather and the spread of viruses.
4. Study and Schools
There is a big need for the construction of caravan-like schools to replace the public schools that have to be evacuated by the IDPs because schools have already started. Both IDP and local students have not been able to join their schools now occupied by the IDPs. There is also a need to build (3 schools) in Ankawa which is the biggest IDP center. Similarly, 2 schools need to be built in Duhok and Zakho each. It is possible to involve the teaching staff from the IDPs who receive their salaries from the government without doing any teaching.
5. The direct role of the German church
It is important to have a representative or committee from the German church in Iraq, especially in northern Iraq, to coordinate and evaluate aid work and help provide a realistic picture of the situation as well as possible projects and ideas. It is possible to make use of the Coordination Office/Iraq Catholic Church Project Development that belongs to the Council of Bishops in Iraq that can be empowered for such a task.
6. Helping the Clergymen
There are five Catholic Dioceses and two Orthodox ones that suffer from lack of funding after losing their endowments and faithful who took refuge in Erbil and Duhok. The Dioceses of Erbil and Duhok suffer most in this respect . We request that German dioceses undertake the task of priest sustenance in those dioceses for one year bearing in mind that the salary of a priest is (EUR 900) per month.
1. IDP family housing
The bishops committee seeks to build low-cost houses in the cities of Erbil, Duhok, and the villages of Zakho to help Christians survive and stay and also to find job opportunities for the IDPs. This project will provide an alternative for immigration. It will also contribute to supporting the Christian existence in some villages that house ( 25- 70) families at present.
Increase in the number of families in these villages would be viewed as an empowerment and attraction for families and an opportunity for investment, especially when the number of families has reached (250-300) in each village.
We have made this suggestion to some European governments asking for funding. We also urge the German government to allocate funds for this project bearing in mind that the lands on which to start the projects will be
offered by the churches in Erbil and Duhok. The government in KR has promised to provide the needed necessary services for the project.
2. Developing youth potentials
There are many competent Christian students who have had no chance to pursue their postgraduate education. We look forward to the cooperation of the German government in this respect to offer scholarships for top students in the disciplines of medicine, engineering, computer and languages. Investing on such youth potentials will play a big role in enhancing Christian existence and contribution in the life of the new Iraq society.
Throughout its history, the church in Iraq is well known for having the strongest and most important educational and health institutions. With such institutions, the church will have an opportunity to support and enhance its mission even when only a few Christians will stay. It will enable the church to contribute to the humanitarian formation of all the Iraqi society that is really in need of a new formation due to many wars and conflicts that happened during its modern history.
4. Contribution in supporting the institutional aspect of the church of Iraq through an effective presence of the German church in Iraq, which is known for the high level of organization of its institutions.                           

+ Bashar Warda CSsR  Chaldean Archdiocese of Erbil

Notes about the situation in Northern Iraq
Since June 2014 a group of fighters started invading Iraq, coming from Syria, where they were trying to topple the regime of president Assad. They were joined by some Sunni tribes who felt that they had been neglected by the central government of al-Maliki. They were composed by youngsters who came from different Arabic and European countries. At a point they captured Mosul where the Sunni population welcomed them. and most of the army and officers united with them. Banks and army equipment fell in their hands. They founded an Islamic Khalifate. As for the Christians of Mosul, they had suffered already from the Sunnis, who had killed their bishop and several priests and deacons. Now they had to make a choice: surrender and become Muslim, or pay heavy taxes (djouzia), or to leave and abandon everything. A few days later the choice was restricted to: Become Muslim or death. All the Christians fled, and at the checkpoints they were robbed of everything, even their wedding-rings were token away. Walking they tried to reach on of the villages nearby. Meanwhile in Mosul old churches and precious monuments are destroyed. A regime of terror and horror has woken up. First the rebels attack on the East side of Mosul. They approach the biggest Syrian village Qaraqosh. When they start bombarding the Kurdish battalion retreads and the inhabitants fly. More than 4000 Christian families leave in the night and try to reach Erbil , the Kurdish city, some 50 Km away. In the neighborhood of Erbil lies an important Christian village, Ainkawa. where bishop Bashar, CSsR has his bishopric. Thousands of people stream there into his place. They fill the gardens and schools and churches. The bishop is a genius organizer. He arranges places and food distributions. Everywhere are places made available, even in the neighboring villages. He constructs tents and caravans>>>But then start the rebels attacking to the North of Mosul, where a series of Chaldean villages are situated. Again thousands of Christians have to fly and search for refuge, most of them also come to Ainkawa. 15000 Chaldeans are displaced away from their old traditional villages. Will they ever return? The very existence of an indigene Christian existence in the midst of a Muslim country is threatened.
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