Extremists driven out of Iraq's the Nineveh Plains "riddled the region with land mines" and "put bombs in children's toys" according to a senior Catholic cleric.
Father Luis Montes, Latin Episcopal
Vicar for Kurdistan, told Aid to the Church in Need: "Approximately 60
percent of the homes on the Nineveh Plains were burned down. The
terrorists not only seized all of their belongings. They riddled the
region with land mines."
He said that members of Daesh (ISIS) had
also "put bombs in with children's toys" that would have exploded when
people returned to their homes.
Father Montes added: "It is true that
some people were able to return to their houses. However, they were
only able to determine that they still exist. Because it is impossible
to live there."
He said: "The mines first need to be cleared out
of the entire region. Only then can the villages be restored, and [then]
from the ground up. Everything still needs to be done, the people have
nothing left. Despite everything, Iraqis have lost neither their smiles
nor their hope."
ACN's project partner, Fr Montes added: "When we
received the news that Daesh was retreating, a spontaneous celebration
broke out in the refugee camps. The people went out into the streets to dance and sing, as though they did not have any other problems in their lives."
He added: "They have not lost the hope of being able to return to their homes."
the challenges, Fr Montes said the Iraqi Christians lived "not only in
peace, but also with joy. "To talk about forgiveness with them is easy
because they forgive without bearing a grudge. They are what gives us
He thanked ACN's benefactors for their generosity,
adding that the refugees "know that Christians from other countries have
kept them alive. They always pray for their benefactors."
priest asked for continued support this winter, stating that the
pressing need for refugees in Erbil is for "blankets and more blankets"
as the average temperature is -3°C.
The charity continues to respond to urgent requests for aid from the Church in Iraq.
Kyrke-Smith, Aid to the Church in Need (UK) National Director, said:
"The continued compassion of ACN benefactors is ensuring that these
displaced suffering Christians can remain in Erbil until it is safe for
them to return to practice their Catholic faith in their own villages
and towns in the Nineveh Plains."
He added: "This month, the charity
has approved a further urgent aid payment of more than £400,000 at this
deeply difficult time to help thousands of displaced Christians and
refugees in the Archdiocese of Erbil to ensure the Christian presence in
Read more about Aid to the Church in Need here: http://www.acnuk.org