Support for those suffering in the Middle East

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Home > Media > News > Support for those suffering in the Middle East
Support for those suffering in the Middle East

A delegation of Australian Catholic bishops has returned from the Middle East where they have experienced the plight of Christians who have been impacted by turmoil in the region.

Speaking after a visit to the Caritas Lebanon Head Office in Beirut, Archbishop Julian said meeting displaced families had been a 'deeply moving experience.'

“Following Mass I had the opportunity to speak with around 40 refugee families about their situation. One woman had lost her husband and was pregnant with her fourth child. The family were desperate about their future, wishing only to find some nation who would take them. They felt that there was no future for them in their homeland,” His Grace said.

The bishops delegation also travelled to Erbil in Iraq, a city located only a relatively short distance from Mosul which was captured by ISIS militants in June 2014. More than 120,000 Christians fled from the region and many more were forced to walk and leave behind all of their possessions.

“For the first time in Christian history towns have been emptied of Christians,” Archbishop Julian said. “ISIS militants demanded Christians convert to Islam, face death or flee. Many Christians made their way to Erbil where they instinctively turned to the Church for relief.

“The Church opened halls and schools to the refugees and set about providing support for them, including the renting of houses with the costs borne by the Church and various Church agencies.”

Archbishop Julian said many families saw no hope for their future and were leaving daily for other neighbouring countries where they hope to find refuge.

“The Iraqi Christians have often had to move and re-establish themselves three or four times over the past twenty years [and] they have reached a point when they have lost hope,” His Grace said.

“They are seeking status under the UNHCR as refugees and then hoping to migrate to other countries beyond the Middle East.”

In addition to the tragic human suffering, the delegation heard reports of churches being destroyed and that much of the ancient cultural heritage of the Church in the region had been lost.

Apostolic Nuncio to Lebanon, Archbishop Gabriele Caccia expressed his joy at the significance of the visit of the delegation of bishops before Christmas, as a reminder that the western churches have not forgotten their brothers and sisters in the land that witnessed the birth of Christianity.