Pope Francis calls for action as Iraqi Christians forced to flee

“I invite you to remember and to keep praying for end to tensions and conflicts which are going on in different parts of the world.”

Pope Francis appealed to world leaders to help end the crisis in northern Iraq after a sweeping advance by radical Islamic state militants forced thousands of residents of Iraq’s biggest Christian town to flee their homes.

The Pope noted on Thursday in Vatican City that most Christians have left Mosul for Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region following an ultimatum by the ISIL Takfiris that they must convert, pay a special tax, leave the city, or face death.

He urgently called on the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway.

The Pope said there was urgent need for them to act to protect those affected or threatened by violence and to provide aid to many who have been forced to flee and who depend on the solidarity of others.

In his Angelus blessing on Sunday, he offered prayers for Iraqi Christians who are persecuted, chased away, and forced to leave their houses without the possibility of taking anything with them.

He also called for dialogue to resolve armed conflicts around the world, especially in the Middle East and Ukraine, saying violence is not overcome with violence, but with peace.

“I invite you to remember and to keep praying for end to tensions and conflicts which are going on in different parts of the world, especially in the Middle East and in Ukraine’’, he said.

Most Christians in the north-western Nineveh Province escaped after the ISIL overran the region.

The United Nations has said in a new report that at least 5,576 civilians have been killed and 11,665 others wounded in Iraq since January.

More than one million people have also been displaced in Iraq so far this year.

(Reuters/NAN)


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