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Thousands flee to Nineveh

August 13, 2014

Since June 9th when the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) initiated a blitz campaign that has seen them take over large swaths of north and west Iraq from control of the central Iraqi government, people from the city of Mosul have been fleeing to the Kurdish controlled section of the Nineveh plain. Through long-established partnerships, the United Church of Christ and church partners in the ACT Alliance have been providing food, water, trauma-counselling, health kits, and cash assistance to the most vulnerable.  Prayers and funds also support Global Ministries’ closest partner in the region, the Presbyterian Church of Iraq, founded by one of the UCC’s predecessor body, Evangelical & Reformed Church.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has issued an urgent call to the United Nations for an immediate response to the killing of Christians and others by ISIS militant fighters.

In to an open letter of solidarity to the member churches of the WCC in Northern Iraq, Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, the WCC associate and acting general secretary, solicited prayers for the Christians, the church communities and the people on the Plain of Nineveh in Northern Iraq, as well as the surrounding region.

“We are deeply disturbed by threats encountered by the ancient Christian churches and other religious and ethnic communities of northern Iraq, and by indications that hundreds of thousands of them have already fled their homes,” said Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri, on Thursday 7 August.

According to the Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, Louis Raphael Sako, "there is an urgent need for immediate action to protect these people and deploy all efforts to bring them back to their homes".

According to the letter from Patriarch Sako, which is dated 7 August, during the night of 6-7 August ISIS militants conducted a mortar assault in the region that has driven as many as one hundred thousand Christians from their homes and villages, most fleeing on foot towards the Kurdish cities of Erbil, Duhok and Sulaymaniyah.

The letter reports that churches and church properties in the villages were being destroyed by the ISIS militants along with the burning of old manuscripts and desecration of the buildings

As a member of the World Council of Churches, the UCC is able to stand in solidarity and with a bold public voice with vulnerable churches around the globe.  As part of the ACT Alliance, a global network of churches engaged in development, disaster and refugee response, the United Church of Christ is able to respond to the most vulnerable of those affected by sectarian violence.  Your support of Our Church’s Wider Mission, the UCC Annual Appeal, and One Great Hour of Sharing to make this happen.

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