The story of a Chaldean priest who was forced to flee Qaraqosh

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The story of a Chaldean priest who was forced to flee Qaraqosh

By Gianni Valente/ Vatican Insider

Fr. Paolo Thabit Mekko, the Iraqi Chaldean priest of Qaraqosh, had spent the past few months reopening wells and getting electricity generators going for refugees that fled Mosul after Iraq’s second major city fell into the hands of ISIS jihadists. Now, he too finds himself living the life of a refugee, along with the thousands of fugitives who were expelled from the Nineveh Plain and scattered in streets, churches and across the majority Christian Ankawa suburb of Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. His voice is filled with all the anger and bitterness of a humiliated community, as he describes the events which took place the night Christians had to flee. “At two in the morning, we saw that the Kurdish Peshmerga militia were withdrawing from the line of conflict and ISIS was taking their place. We don’t know why this happened. All we knew was we could not stay there without their protection. Families had started fleeing several hours ago. We got into our cars, carts and buses, a river of terrorized people, all heading towards Kurdistan,” Fr. Paolo told Vatican Insider.

Jihadist militia entered Qaraqosh after six in the morning. Various witnesses say the militants passed through the city’s streets with loudspeakers, urging those who had stayed behind to leave. “Traffic jams started building up on the roads leading to Erbil,” the Chaldean priest said. “The traffic jams lasted several hours,” he added. “Now there are people spread across streets and parks, left to their own devices, but happy to be alive. There are volunteers from the local diocese there to help them but they do what they can. The refugees have left behind everything they had. And they know that the Caliphate’s members go into people’s homes and rob everything, as they have already done in Mosul.”

But Christian refugees are not just blaming this terrible exodus to the ferocious fanaticism of the Jihadists: “The people,” Fr. Paul said, “blame the government, which did nothing for two months after the fall of Mosul and simply allowed the situation to deteriorate.” The promises made by Christian politicians who until yesterday had dreamed of transforming the Nineveh Plain into an autonomous region for Christians, now seem to have no solid basis. “All that remains now is the absurdity of a people who carry the legacy of a four-thousand year old civilization being forced by bands of fanatic criminals to flee their own homes and live in the street like beggars,” the priest concluded bitterly.

Fri, 08/08/2014 - 19:41
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