As attacks on Iraq's Christian minority have been steadily increasing since late spring, culminating in the bombing of five Christian churches in Baghdad and Mosul on Sunday, Christians have reportedly been fleeing the war-torn nation in record numbers, according to United Nations high commissioner for refugees. Meanwhile, those who have remained are picking up the pieces with the help of local and overseas Christian organizations and NGOs throughout the world.
International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) a member of the global alliance Action by Churches Together (ACT) International is currently working to meet the immediate needs of those most affected by the attacks.
“We are assessing the needs of the families of those killed or injured by these senseless acts of brutality, and IOCC will be providing assistance to them as we are able,” said Saad Gedeon, program coordinator for IOCC Iraq. “Christians around the world must stand with those who have fallen victim to this brutal violence, letting them know that we are with them not only in thought and prayer, but also in deed, in the days and weeks to come as they work to rebuild.”
Several of the damaged churches in Baghdad are part of the local ecumenical network of ACT members and partners that have been active in distributing food and hygiene kits to Iraqis in need over the past year. Since the bombings, IOCC staff, led by Gedeon, have visited the churches and interviewed their priests and bishops.
Iraqi Christians, a minority in the predominantly Muslim country, have been left reeling from the large-scale violence against their communities in Baghdad and Mosul. While many have chosen to flee the nation, seeking refuge in neighboring Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon, there are those who have chosen to stay to rebuild their broken nation. And while violence and unrest seems to be growing in frequency, IOCC reports that their work in Iraq has not ceased. Through IOCC’s distribution network, hundreds of low-income Iraqi families receive food and other necessities. Victims of the recent attacks will receive food parcels, hygiene kits and other forms of assistance, depending on their needs.
Other ACT members implementing relief programs in Iraq are Middle East Council of Churches, Norwegian Church Aid and Diakonie Austria. The programs are supported by ACT members around the world.
Beginning operations in Iraq in April 2003, IOCC has been distributing food, hygiene and first aid parcels through the Middle East Council of Churches and its network of churches and mosques.