Help the Assyrian Christians of Iraq: Operation Return to Nineveh
Since the beginning of the Iraqi army’s offensive operations aimed at recapturing Mosul, the Islamic State has been pushed out of many of its strongholds in northern Iraq, including some in the Nineveh Plain. The Plain is the home of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians, known as Assyrians, almost all of whom belong either to the Assyrian Church of the East, the Syriac Orthodox Church, or the Roman-affiliated Chaldean Catholic Church. The vast majority have been left homeless, over a thousand have been killed, and many of the rest, according to Assyrian-Iraqi member of parliament Yonathan Betkolia, have suffered “[r]ape and murder of women and children, slaughter of the elderly, occupation of Assyrian lands, forced displacement, and using them as human shields.”
The persecution of our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq is a humanitarian and human rights disaster:
•200,000 Christians have had to flee with nothing more than what they could carry, and have been displaced for more than two years;
•In the largest Christian city, Baghdedeh, 30% of all the homes have been bombed;
•In some villages, 80% of more have been burned;
•Eighteen churches have been destroyed;
•Six Christian towns have been liberated, but more remain under ISIS control.
Homes, churches, monasteries, schools, hospitals–you name it, and ISIS has destroyed and desecrated it. What’s worse, ISIS has employed chemical weapons in its fight against the Iraqi army, and now many people are afraid to return to towns and villages that they fear have been contaminated with deadly chemicals. Even with many Christians population centers liberated, the job of reconstruction is going to be enormous. This video from the Iraqi Christian Relief Council (ICRC) will give you a hint of what the situation on the ground looks like:
In the face of this destruction, organizations both inside and outside the country are trying to help. One of the most active is the ICRC, of which I’m a member of the board of directors. The ICRC has helped both the displaced and Christian refugees in Jordan and Turkey with food, medicines, shelter, and a variety of other needs. It is now undertaking its biggest mission yet, which is being called #OperationReturnToNineveh.
You can help. Go to the Operation Return to Nineveh page on the ICRC web site to learn more, including how you can donate. Check out the Twitter feed linked above to keep up with what’s happening, and what’s needed. And please, spread the word. Share this post on your Facebook timeline, your Twitter feed, your Instagram account, or wherever and however you can. The vast majority of Americans still know little or nothing about what has happened to the Christians of Iraq, which has been termed by the United States government to be no less than genocide. They need to be educated
The West has repeatedly turned its back on genocide over the last forty years. Now is the time to say, and mean, and actually act on “never again!” This is the Body of Christ calling out for our help, friends. God forgive us if we abandon them in their time of need.
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