Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Sunday, 9 June 2024
Iraq: Christian community still needing help 20 years after mosul invasion
Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said that the Christian community needs all the help it can get to “keep the flame of the Christian faith shining” in Iraq’s historic Christian heartland.

Amy Balog/ :

On the 10th anniversary of ISIS seizing Mosul, heralding its invasion of the Nineveh Plain, an Iraqi archbishop has said more help is needed for the Christian community to thrive.


Speaking to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said that around 9,000 Christian families have now returned to their homes in the Nineveh Plain after fleeing a decade ago when ISIS seized the region.

The extremist group captured Mosul and the villages to the north and east of the city between 4_10 June 2014, prompting a mass exodus of Christians, Yazidis and others.


The occupation of Mosul left the Christian towns and villages of the Nineveh Plain vulnerable to a new advance, which occurred on 6 August 2014, forcing the entire Christian population to flee to Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region.


Archbishop Warda told ACN that a total of 13,200 Christian families had fled to his archdiocese in Kurdistan.


He said he was grateful to the international community--including ACN--for providing emergency aid and helping rebuild the destroyed villages, making it possible for thousands of Christian families to return to their native land, with “everyone working towards one goal”.


He added that “all those sad and terrifying memories are still there, but at least [the Christian families] could start building and showing that the future is in [their] hands.”


The archbishop underlined that the “churches are being filled again”, and “there are so many children” receiving catechesis and preparing for their First Holy Communion.


He went on to highlight the special role of the Catholic University of Erbil – Iraq’s only Catholic university, established in 2015 and supported by ACN – in nurturing Christian unity in the region.


He said that his community needs all the help it can get to “keep the flame of the Christian faith shining” in Iraq’s historic Christian heartland.


He added: “I ask my people just to be patient and persevere.”


Archbishop Warda said that many Christians have either left or planning to leave the country because of the ongoing economic hardship, stressing that young people “ask for jobs, not just to receive donations”.


He explained that, even though persecution is no longer their main concern, “the pressure of being a minority is real”.


He went on to call on the international community not to forget Iraq’s suffering Christians “in the midst of so many crises around the world”.


The archbishop added that he “would love to see” the UK government and other world leaders remind Iraqi politicians that they “care about the minorities – Christians, Yazidis and the rest”.


He expressed his gratitude for ACN’s help, saying: “The response from ACN and other Christian charities was a big help that made it possible for us to help those in need.


“We pray for you and for all our benefactors.


“We pray that whatever you give, we multiply it in a way that will help serve the needs of the people.”