COMECE accompanied His Beatitude Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako I, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, in his 2-day visit to Europe addressing EU representatives and policy makers on the reconstruction of Iraq and the challenge of reconciliation among Iraqis.
Although major military operations concluded in late 2017, the humanitarian crisis in Iraq is far from being over. According to recent statistics, 8.7 million people – four million of which are children – remain in need of humanitarian assistance. In this context, after years of violence and persecution of religious minorities, Iraqi Christians face huge challenges, including the return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), as well as the reconstruction of their cities. Exchanging with Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Action, and with EEAS representatives, the Patriarch emphasised the need to promote a full and common citizenship to respect human rights that guarantees equality for all regardless of their religious or ethnic belonging. In particular, Cardinal Sako called on the EU to support education programmes policies, to increase job opportunities and tackle corruption to fully empower young people and prevent sectarianism in society. He also mentioned the central role of Christians in civil society movements promoting human rights, in particular regarding women. During a COMECE-organised meeting between the Patriarch and representatives of Christian organisations and stakeholders, he pointed out the need to advance towards full religious freedom and freedom of conscience in Iraq, as well as to reform the Constitution and the legislation according international human rights standards. COMECE follows the developments in the region and, in dialogue with local Church authorities, already contributed to the public consultation in view of the EU Communication “Elements for an EU Strategy for Iraq“.