Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil said that many Christian families are
fleeing from the camps in Iraq. The archbishop reported that the number
of Christian families in the camps has been reduced from 120,000 to
Three members of the British Parliament (MP), along with Catholic Charity Aid to the Church in Need, recently made a trip to Erbil, Iraq, to learn more about the situation of the refugees in the region.
During the visit, Warda spoke about the lack of support from the
Iraqi government and expressed his gratitude to the charities. He urged
the visitors tell others about the situation of Christians in Iraq.
"We rely on you telling the story of the situation and the importance
of Christians remaining, so that the Christians can help be a bridge
between the different groups," the archbishop said.
Jim Shannon, MP for Strangford, said that his visit to the camps was a humbling experience.
"It was illuminating, it was heartening, it was humbling," Shannon
said. "For me, it was an opportunity to see in some places a very
thriving Church, and in other places a very persecuted Church, to meet
some of those who had to flee with only the shirt on their backs as
Daesh (ISIS) descended upon them to do their worst," he added.
The other MPs who joined the trip were Chris Green, MP for Bolton West, and Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde.
Warda told the delegates that his priorities are to provide
food, housing and medical facilities for displaced families. He also
mentioned that the families are in need of pastoral and spiritual
The MPs were also able to witness an ordination ceremony at the
Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Ankawa. One of the newly
ordained priests, Fr. Martin Banni, decided to remain in Iraq even after
his family had gone back home.
Chaldean Church Patriarch Raphael Sako saw the ordination as a sign
of hope that the refugees will return to Iraq. "Father Martin should be a
model of Christ – of courage and sacrifice," said Sako.
Warda asserted that
the U.S. government should be responsible for helping the displaced
Christians because of its role in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.