A high-profile Iraqi cleric says the best way to help his countrymen
is at home, rather than pouring money into refugee programs overseas.
Kirkuk's Archbishop Yousif Mirkis, who is visiting France, called
Tuesday for an initiative for Iraq similar to the Marshall Plan that
rebuilt Europe after World War II. He said the the effort and money
Western countries spend in taking in refugees would be more wisely
targeted in Iraq, channeled into private projects such as building
The Chaldean Catholic archbishop is visiting France to spread
awareness about the situation in his homeland and to raise funds for an
interfaith educational project targeting young Iraqis that he has set up
Iraq's Christian population has been plummeting for more than a
decade. Thousands have fled the country since 2014, with the rise of the
Islamic State group.
But Mirkis believes staying and resisting is the better path. He
described the dynamism Iraqi Christians have traditionally contributed
to the economy of their country, where many had dominated the
engineering and medical fields.
Mirkis spoke of how one Iraqi medical student turned down a visa to
France. There are many others like her, he said — youngsters who have
decided to stay and build their future in Iraq.