Caritas has served almost 400,000 people in Iraq since ISIS started attacking communities in 2014. Caritas Iraq currently helps 5000 families a month with programmes for psychological support, education, livelihoods, COVID-19, health, shelter, peacebuilding and developing the roles of women and youth.
Caritas Internationalis is with the Holy Father on this pilgrimage to Iraq, a crucial moment of expressing solidarity with Christians in the country and in the Middle East. It is moment to call for dialogue and reconciliation in a country recovering from decades of war.
In Iraq, Caritas seeks to address the reconstruction of the human person and the rebuilding of solidarity and citizenship after years of an ideology promoting sectarianism.
Caritas is preparing for a wave of people fleeing the embattled Iraqi city of Mosul. Between 1.2 to 1.5 million people could be affected and 200,000 could flee in the first few weeks.
Many people ask me about the conditions and lives of Christians in Iraq. I don't wish to be pessimistic, but unfortunately the situation is going from bad to worse: bombing, car bombs, suicide bombings, rape, torture, kidnapping and robbery are just some of the agents of death used by ISIS.
"They stopped me and my wife and children at a roadblock. Then they kept us in a cell for nine months. I was often tortured there...We were very lucky. They released us on payment of a ransom...and because we agreed to become Moslems."