(JNS.org) The Catholic charity organization Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has announced a new package of $4 million in assistance for Iraq’s beleaguered Christian community, coming one year after 120,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes by the Islamic State terror group.
According to ACN, many of the displaced Christians now live in Iraqi Kurdistan, where they “continue to suffer material, psychological, and spiritual hardships.” Other Iraqi Christians have fled to Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.
ACN said it has spent more than $8 million to help Iraqi Christians, with one-third of the grants paying for the rental of reliable housing for internally displaced Christians.
The announcement of the aid package coincides with the one-year anniversary of Islamic State taking control of the Iraqi Christian city of Qaraqosh, which came a month after it took control of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
“The latest series of projects will ensure the continuation of the Christian presence in Iraq and the wider Middle East. Thanks to the compassion of our benefactors, ACN has been able to nourish the hope of those displaced within the country,” George Marlin, chairman of ACN’s U.S. branch, said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Syrian Archbishop of Aleppo Jean-Clement Jeanbart said that America’s reluctance to give asylum to Middle East Christians is “unjust,” while calling on the West to help provide aid to Christians fleeing persecution from Islamic State and other terrorist groups.
Jeanbart’s call was joined by Iraqi Christian leader Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda of Erbil.
“They have been subject to all kinds of violence because they are Christians,” Warda said. “It is your responsibility—it is your duty to speak for them. This is part of being an American.”