martedì, settembre 16, 2014


Rogationists in Iraq. Father Zuhir Nasser, refugee among the refugees in Erbil

By Baghdadhope*

Father Zuhir Nasser R.C.J. is a Rogationist priest born in Qaraqosh (Iraq) who after many years spent in Italy more than one year ago went back to his country with some of his brothers to start a presence of the Order and to put into practice one of its missions: "To be good workers in the Church, engaged in works of charity, education and sanctification of children and young people, especially the poor and uncared-for, in the evangelization, the human promotion and the relief of the poor people."
Until August 6, Father Zuhir used to work between Qaraqosh and Bartella, one of the villages that that night fell into the hands of the militia of the Islamic State.
Here's how Father Zuhir reported the events to Baghdadhope:
"We run away during the night, leaving everything for fear of the troops of the Islamic State. There were Christians, but also Yazidi and Shiites fleeing Qaraqosh, Karamles and Bartella. It was the night between August 6 and 7 and we headed to Erbil. At the beginning Christians slept in churches, squares and streets and after 3 days some schools were opened to house them."
Where do you work today?
"I work at the Hammurabi primary school that compared to other refugee camps is smaller and is home to about 40 families for a total of about 180 people, all Christians. To help me to assist them there is another priest and a nun but unfortunately we can’t accommodate other people. For now the refugees will not be cleared from the building because it is a primary school, while the first that will have to go back to their primary purpose are the middle and high schools; however it is right for the kids to go back to school and maybe also those kids who came here as refugees will have the chance to attend lessons. I realize that it will not be easy and that is why alternative solutions for the thousands of people who arrived in Erbil who soon will face the winter out of their homes are necessary and urgent."
Who helps you?
"In the beginning there were some aid agencies that gave us what we needed to survive and I don’t know if the same agencies supplied a warehouse in Ankawa from where we took what we needed. Schools and camps are run by the church that, for example, through the bishops made the request to the Ministry of Education of Kurdistan to open the schools for the refugees. The situation is tragic, material needs,  also the simple ones, are many and so far we have received no financial support, some family had money by the government office in charge of the refugees, but most of them had and has nothing. Many are not even able to find a place in schools or in the camps and sleep in the streets."
Someone talked about aid offered to refugees by private citizens of Erbil ...
"Some good-hearted people opened the doors of their homes to refugees, and we thank them for this, but there are also those who are taking advantage of the situation. The rent of a completely empty house can cost 1000 Euro per month, in addition to 6 months in advance and more money for the deposit. "
What is your job?
"The management of the school,  from distribution of food to cleaning is entrusted to us and to the people who live in it. We don’t have a medical center but the medical and nursing staff of the Hospital of Qaraqosh,  for example, vaccinated children and young people."
What do the people you care for want?
"Most of them want to flee Iraq and go abroad because there are no guarantees that they can return to their homes and live in peace being sure that what happened in the last few months doesn't happen again. Few are those who want to stay even if they ask: How are we going to rebuild what we have been taken away? For whom should we do it? What will we find once back home? Questions nobody can answer to."
How can you describe the situation?
"I know that in many parts of the world it is difficult to understand the tragedy of 200,000 refugees, but I compare it to the effects of a devastating earthquake or a tsunami, and our case is only one among the others if we consider that the refugees created by the advance of the Islamic State in the world are now 2 million."

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