There are numbers of things these days that DEMAND our attention, all of which deal with the preservation and protection of human life. We are trying our best to resolve the intolerable promotion of contraceptive and abortifacient materials by our own government. These activities give evidence of the widening gap in understanding by our own country and those working for an informed intellectual and spiritual understanding of the sacredness of human life and the escalating measures that are necessary to protect and defend it. Everyday some area of service presents itself for our spiritual and civil attention in these areas.
A new global atrocity, however, presents itself for our consideration in prayerful and financial support at this time. That atrocity is the organized annihilation and planned extinction of our Christian brothers and sisters in the Mid-East. Like the sin of abortion, this abomination feeds on the selfishness and foul greed of people who have abandoned reason and sacrificed their own souls to the darkest side of human depravity.
Escalating violence in northern and central Iraq has caused devastation and mass displacement of 1.2 million people since January. Fear looms as the Islamic State of Iraq and greater Syria (ISIS) has taken control over large areas of the northern provinces, including Ninewa, Salah Al-Din and Diyala provinces. These areas include cities—like Tekrit, Kirkuk, Mosul—that we heard about in daily reports involving American soldiers. Now, religious minorities including Christians, Shia Muslims, and Turkmen have been singled out for attack.
Catholic Relief Services is providing humanitarian relief to 3,500 displaced families in Ninewa. CRS works in close partnership with Caritas Iraqi and is establishing a new joint office in Erbil and three other new locations in northern Iraq. The President of the United States has authorized US fighter jets to airlift supplies to the people trapped in these areas—including the remnant of American forces also ensnared by ISIS forces.
The lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi families are in peril and in need of meaningful interventions to prevent further catastrophe. CRS is seeking support for humanitarian efforts, which are critical to protecting and saving lives immediately, as well as preparing for the needs ahead.
Pope Francis launched an appeal for unity, calling for “security, peace and a future of reconciliation and justice, where all Iraqis, whatever their religion, could build their nation together, creating a model of coexistence.” Iraqi Bishops also issued a statement in July pleading for increased humanitarian assistance and protection of minorities.
Over the next 6 months, CRS will provide support to 30,000 families, along with an initial commitment of $650,000 in private funds. Based on the evolving needs on the ground and our ability to identify additional resources, CRS and Caritas Iraq will expand these critical efforts to more families and communities in dire need.
Specific areas of CRS support include:
Food, Water and Essential Living Supplies: With people on the move and robbed of their belongings, many have no means to purchase the basics. In coordination with the United Nations and peer agencies, CRS/Caritas will provide food, water and living supplies.
Psychosocial Support and Trauma Healing: Emotional trauma is high, especially among minorities who were the target of attacks. CRS/Caritas will carry out puppet methodology for trauma healing and the building of peaceful relations. This will involve training of staff and volunteers on skills and practices proven successful in similar backdrops. Activities will engage children as well as their parents.
Education for Internally Displaced Children: The Ministry of Education requested help to ensure that all children are able to take their end of year exams in mid-August. Many children have missed months of school. CRS/Caritas will provide children with education and exam preparation, as well as support to schools for the influx of children.
Preparation for Longer-Term Resettlement: CRS/Caritas is preparing for the long-term reality facing families: resettling in new locations, the onset of winter, safe and dignified shelter, and livelihood options, such as cash for work and vocational training.
If you would like, you can contribute to this cause or get more information directly from CRS at: http://emergencies.crs.org/iraq-crs-caritas-reach-displaced-families/ Thanks for your interest and your support.
Additionally, on Sunday August 17, the Bishops of the United States are calling all the faithful across our beloved country to join in prayer for those who are being brutalized in the Mid-East—for no other reason than the free profession of their religious faith. We may need to begin to realize how easily religious liberty can be taken away.
Let’s pray together at Sunday Mass—see you there!