Both Pope Francis and President Trump, in a recent meeting, shared concerns about conditions in Iraq- especially with Christians in these areas.
Church leaders in Iraq are urging the public to donate to the Christian Refugee Relief Fund to help avert a crisis. Without immediate financial support, the country’s Christian population may be reduced to “unsustainable levels”.
In 2003, the Christian population was 1.5 million, and has drastically fallen to 200,000 today (Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil). Erbil houses the largest Christian population in Iraq in addition to the largest community of displaced Christians in the country (12,000 families). Currently, there is a shortfall of $600,000 a month in food aid.
Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil explains the situation, “As we approach the third anniversary of ISIS’ genocide against our community in Iraq, Iraqi Christians face a new threat. Even as their home towns are liberated, our people often cannot move home because there is not enough money for reconstruction or security. What’s worse, at this point we face a serious shortfall in the money needed just to cover the costs of providing food to the displaced Christians in our care.”
“Having to decide between rebuilding homes or feeding the displaced is not a choice,” he said. “It is a potential death sentence for our Christian communities.”
Warda also adds that in 2,000 years, the future of Christianity in Iraq is now hanging in a delicate balance. Its survival depends on whether the short-term essentials are able to be met, and whether help with reconstructions and security can be met in the long term. Questions are being raised for the first time as to whether this will be viable any longer.
The Knights of Columbus has aided the cause considerably over the years by donating over $12 million to Christian refugee relief since 2014 to communities ignored by the U.N. or U.S. government assistance. Most of the funding has helped Christian communities in these areas with food, clothing, shelter, and education. Additionally, it has helped threatened or displaced communities in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt. Other targeted groups by ISIS have also received aid.
Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights of Columbus notes a change from World War 1 to present day.
“A century ago, the American people helped save Christianity in the Middle East after the genocide they endured during and following World War I. Today, it falls to us to act, and to act quickly, if Christianity – and with it, pluralism – are to be saved in the Middle East.”
To aid in the relief, The Knights of Columbus will match donations received by July 1 up to $1 million. 100% of money raised will be utilized to assist with food programs for Christian refugees.
Donations can be made to: www.ChristiansatRisk.org and are tax deductible to the extend allowed by law.
In 2015, the Knights of Columbus raised $175 million in donations setting a new record.