01 Apr 2015 Q&A Comments (9)

Why can't ministers of Holy Communion bring the Eucharist to Sunday-school teachers who are working during Mass?

Full Question My parish refuses to have an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion go to the Sunday school classrooms to offer the Eucharist to the teache…

Read more

19 Aug 2016 Articles No comments

Painting of Jesus gone wrong becomes topic of new comedic opera

Four years ago in the little town of Borja, Spain, there was a case of thought-to-be vandalism that turned out to be an unfortunate attempt at art restoration. …

Read more

26 May 2016 Articles Comments (3)

More Reasons for Mary's Perpetual Virginity

In my last post, I gave an abbreviated version of three of the eight reasons I give for Mary's perpetual virginity in my book, Behold Your Mother: A Biblical an…

Read more

18 Feb 2016 Articles Comments (2)

Pope Benedict Speaks to Muslims

On November 28, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Ankara for a state visit to the Republic of Turkey. The pontiff’s visit, already a source of controversy owin…

Read more

02 Apr 2015 Q&A Comments (9)

Am I right in thinking that priests may prohibit female altar servers?

Full Question Our parish priest says the Church does not permit the exclusion of female altar servers. I thought a priest can choose whether or not to have…

Read more

16 Dec 2015 News Vatican No comments

The Pope's annual message for the 49th World Day of Peace

With the publication of his annual message for the 49th World Day of Peace, the Holy Father called on world leaders to make what he termed “courageous gestures …

Read more

20 May 2016 United Kingdom No comments

Archbishop says Pope will visit Ireland in 2018

The trip would likely include the first ever papal visit to Northern Ireland Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has confirmed that Pope Francis, or his succe…

Read more

21 Oct 2014 USA No comments

Remembering Helen Hull Hitchcock, 'a true daughter of God'

St. Louis, Mo., Oct 21, 2014 / 04:35 pm .- Helen Hull Hitchcock, a prominent Catholic speaker, author, and advocate for the Church’s teachings on women and litu…

Read more

19 Feb 2015 Articles Comments (2)

The King's Throne

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post on the availability, or lack thereof, of sacraments for the homebound, titled Have Sacraments, Will Travel. After wr…

Read more
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Aid agencies prepare to help 1.5 million expected to flee Mosul offensive

Up to 13 million Iraqis may need humanitarian aid by the end of 2016

The military offensive to root out ISIS militants from Mosul and surrounding villages will be a “huge challenge", the United Nations has said.

The UN said it expects about 1.5 million people to flee the warfare in a short amount of time.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and other humanitarian agencies – including Catholic groups – in Iraq are scurrying to ready preparations, as it is believed that the US-led assault could be pushed forward as early as September. But aid groups fear they may be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers involved.

The UN says that as the Mosul crisis evolves, up to 13 million people throughout Iraq may need humanitarian aid by the year’s end – far larger than the Syrian crisis. This would make the humanitarian operation in Mosul likely the single largest, most complex in the world in 2016.

Bruno Geddo, UNHCR chief for Iraq, told the US Catholic News Service that the United Nations has issued an appeal for the $284 million needed in part for the “preparation of camps ahead of the humanitarian emergency from Mosul". He said a cluster of camps needs to be built in six locations in disputed territory.

“Not only do you have to make sure that the location is not in the direct range in the line of fire," he said, “but the terrain must be fit to build a camp."

He said safety and security screenings were top priorities as Sunni Muslims flood out of Mosul, controlled by ISIS for the past two years. Iraqi authorities will be charged with conducting the security screenings to identify ISIS collaborators.

Others who pass the screening may escape to the Nineveh Plains – the ancestral heartland of Iraqi Christians for centuries – and this will not be acceptable to either Christians or Yezidis persecuted by ISIS militants.

“We are very sensitive to this issue. Yezidis always consistently said: ‘We will never again be able to live side by side with Sunni neighbours after what they perpetrated against us,’" Mr Geddo told CNS. Yezidis and other religious minorities will be located in camps separate from Mosul’s Sunni Muslims.

“Those security-cleared will be able to go elsewhere in the country based on sponsorships by family members, relatives, or religious institutions. They can fan out all the way down to Basra," Mr Geddo said.

“This key for us to meet this massive humanitarian need," he added, “so they will not have to stay in camps but move on, on a sponsorship basis while they have been security cleared."

Hani El-Mahdi, country representative of Catholic Relief Services in Iraq, said the Catholic agency is building capacity with its personnel, Caritas and Church volunteers to administer emergency assistance to the newly displaced who choose to shelter in communities, rather than camps, in the Nineveh Plains, Zumar, Kirkuk and Dahuk.

“We are anticipating that the vast majority of the displaced, perhaps more than 90 percent, will shelter in non-camp areas," Mr El-Mahdi told CNS. “CRS responded to the latest crisis in Fallujah in non-camp areas, and the lessons learned will be applied in this situation."

Mr El-Mahdi said CRS does not promote using tents for the displaced people and has devised a new transitional shelter model made from locally available materials that is preferable in temperature extremes and more cost-effective than tents.

Retaking Mosul from ISIS is significant because it is where the militant group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced the self-declared caliphate.

The city, once Iraq’s second-largest, has also been the largest city under the extremists’ control with an estimated population of 500,000 to a million. It is believed that ISIS fighters there may number 10,000, but there are also reports of militants fleeing to Syria ahead of the offensive.

Reports have also emerged of families trying to escape Mosul and surrounding villages, once mainly populated by Iraqi Christians, ahead of the military onslaught. Some humanitarians fear a repeat of the recent burning by ISIS militants of a two-year-old girl and her family escaping their clutches.

Aid workers like Betsy Baldwin, who directs Tearfund’s Iraq response, say their greatest concern is having enough water, shelter and other basic necessities available.

“The volume of people coming toward us is at such a large scale. While we will do our best, I have a feeling that it will be overwhelming to all players involved," said Mr Baldwin. She said if people continue to trickle out of Mosul at a slower rate, the assistance will be more manageable, but humanitarians will need to be prepared for “a sudden and uncontrollable flow of people".

“We expect people to live in everything from abandoned buildings that have been disused for some time now. There are also a lot of unfinished buildings throughout the Kurdish region of Iraq," Mr Baldwin told CNS. “People may shelter in open areas outside of villages, where they will be able to connect to existing services in villages, perhaps such as fetching water from them."

But Mr Baldwin also said that winter supplies must also be planned now, should the conflict drag on or the displacement be very widespread.

“If people are not able to return to their homes and face a protracted displacement, we need to think now about heaters, stoves and similar items," she added.


Leave a Reply

  1. most read post
  2. Most Commented
  3. Choose Categories