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ACN official praises Iraqi Christians' resilience
"The longer this exile lasts, the more people will leave. And many Christians have already left Iraq."
Father Andrzej Halemba is the Middle East projects coordinator for Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), the international Catholic charity. He recently spoke about the situation of Christians in Iraq, two years after their flight from ISIS, following the capture of the city of Mosul and the Nineveh Plane. At that time, some 120,000 Christians fled into Kurdish Iraq.
By Oliver Maksan
But it is also likely that many Sunnis from Mosul and its surroundings would enter the empty Christian villages on the Nineveh Plane and seek shelter there.
This could create new and unforeseen difficulties; would they be prepared to leave the villages again to allow for the return of Christians to their land and properties? This scenario causes the bishops in Iraq real concern.
I am not saying that they want to live with it permanently. Of course not. But they have seen that they are not abandoned. We have set up schools. Soon, secondary schools will also be able to open.
The aim is to prevent a lost generation from growing up here, like in Syria.
Furthermore, most people are no longer living in tents or caravans but in rented apartments and houses. This has restored their dignity and the feeling of having a home again.
Our subsidies for food as well as their own labor ensure that they are
provided with the basic necessities. But naturally it cannot go on like this
forever. The longer this exile lasts, the more people will leave. And many
Christians have already left Iraq.
Father Halemba (center-left) visits with Christian children in Kurdistan; ACN photo