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Hundreds of thousands of people have fled clashes in northern Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fled clashes in northern Iraq.

Caritas Iraq is providing food, bedding and hygiene kits to 2000 Iraqi families who have fled their homes after fighting broke out in the north of the country.

Heavy clashes between armed groups intensified in June, causing a massive movement of 400,000 people out of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, and other towns towards Kurdistan.

Iraqi Christians have been one of the groups affected.

Christians have also fled Mosul in large numbers. “You could count the number of Christian families who remain on the fingers of one hand,” said Caritas Iraq staff.

The situation is calmer in Mosul now, but fierce clashes continue in other areas.

“The displacement from Mosul has decreased since the beginning of the crisis, but the conditions in the surrounding area is very difficult,” said Caritas Iraq staff. “Wide areas lack electricity, water and other main services.”

Shelling and fighting in Qaraqosh has caused 15,000 people to flee with more stuck at check points. They are staying in churches or with relatives.

Caritas is providing food, bedding and hygiene items to people fleeing the violence.

Caritas is providing food, bedding and hygiene items to people fleeing the violence.

Qaraqosh is the Christian heartland in the north, home to 40,000 Christians. It’s about 30 km from Mosul. Caritas has had to close its office in Qaraqosh town for security reasons.

People are living in camps, churches, mosques and with local people. Caritas Iraqi staff and volunteers in the north will distribute aid to a further 1000 families more than the 2000 already reached.

Caritas helps people regardless of their religion.

Pope Francis has called for peace and political dialogue, and reaffirmed that more violence will never bring hope and peace. Caritas France (Secours Catholique) has launched a petition in English and French calling on the EU to ratify the Arms Trade Treaty as a way to stem the flow of arms into the region.

[Tweet “Retweet #StopArms2Iraq and sign @caritasfrance petition http://chn.ge/1rT636d “]