Helping Iraq

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Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has announced a €4 million scheme – one of the largest in the charity’s 67-year history – which will help thousands of displaced Iraqi Christians receive food, shelter and schooling. The scheme includes pastoral support for priests and Sisters displaced by the crisis that has swept Iraq.

The projects, a number of them agreed on last Tuesday, come amid fresh reports that the crisis facing up to 120,000 displaced Christians is on the verge of worsening.

There is huge pressure to move thousands of families out of tents before winter comes and the weather is expected to deteriorate.

Other families have just days to leave buildings such as schools, which have been converted into displacement centres, where they have been sleeping up to 20 to a room.

The Christian communities are entirely dependent on outside help and have been supported by the Church since they arrived in Kurdish northern Iraq.

Many of them have found refuge in Ankawa, close to the regional capital, Erbil, and further north in the region of Dohuk, close to the Turkish border.

It is now nearly four months since they left their homes with little more than the clothes they were wearing when Islamic State fighters advanced on Mosul city and towns and villages in the neighbouring Nineveh plains.

Amid growing concerns for their future, Aid to the Church in Need’s emergency projects’ package includes:

• Eight schools – four in Ankawa, Erbil, and the rest in Dohuk – pre-fabricated PVC structures providing for 15,000 children (€2 million);

• Food for displaced people totally reliant on outside help (€630,000);

• Rented accommodation in Ankawa and Dohuk for displaced people (€400,000) ;

• 150 PVC porta-cabins in Ankawa for use as accommodation (€470,000);

• Christmas gifts for 15,000 children including warm clothes (coats and socks), pencils, colouring books and devotional items and Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles (€295,000);

• Mass stipends for more than 100 priests – both Chaldean and Syrian Catholic –from Iraq, most of them displaced by violence and other unrest (€88,200);

• Help for 28 seminarians at St Peter’s Seminary, Ankawa (€39,000);

Additional grants include €19,000 emergency aid for Sacred Heart Sisters displaced from Mosul, €78,000 support for Babel College of Philosophy and Theology in Ankawa and €38,000 help for Christian education (catechism) in 20 parishes across Baghdad.

The charity’s head of Middle East projects, Fr Andrzej Halemba, said: “This ancient community, which dates back to biblical times, is on the verge of disappearing forever.

“They have suffered so much and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help them and give them what they need to get through the winter.”

For more information about ACN’s campaigns or to make a donation, visit or contact Aid to the Church in Need (Malta), 39b, Mdina Road, Attard ATD 9038, tel: 2148 7818 or e-mail