Originally posted by John Newton and Oliver Maksan on Independent Catholic News on September 20, 2014—
“The leaders of Iraq’s Christians have called on the United Nations to urgently address the growing refugee crisis before a freezing winter forces displaced Christians to leave the country.
“We Christians in Iraq have a future if the international community gives us immediate assistance. Don’t forget us,” Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako told a conference at the UN in Geneva. The patriarch told the delegates that “People are disappointed how little help has been received to date.”
He was addressing a conference entitled: ‘Christians in the Middle East: Citizenship, Human Rights and their Future’, supported by Aid to the Church in Need. Stressing the immediate challenge, Patriarch Sako said: “At present about 120,000 Christians are living in Iraq as refugees. “They need everything because the ISIS terrorists have taken all they had. The greatest challenge at the present time is the provision of living accommodation.”
The leader of the Chaldean Christians explained that with temperatures set to plunge in the coming months the crisis was going to get worse. Patriarch Sako said: “The winter, which can be very cold in Iraqi Kurdistan, is coming and the people can’t possibly stay in tents. We rely heavily on support here.”
Calling for a protection zone for Christians to be set up in northern Iraq under a UN mandate, he also asked the UN to intervene to enable those who had been displaced by the advance of the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) to go back home.
He said: “We need a resolution of the United Nations which will enable us to return,” warning that if the Iraqi Christians are not able to return to their homes in the Nineveh Plains, they will become exiles living outside their homeland.”
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