Bishop of Iraq: Christians must return to our villages and begin to live

“We helped Sunni refugees fleeing Mosul, even though we knew they sacked our homes.”

Bashar Warda, the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, is again traveling the world to make the voices of persecuted Christians in Iraq heard.

After more than two years of occupation by Daesh, the cities of the Nineveh plain have been liberated little by little. However, the terrorists have almost completely destroyed many of the villages, and their houses and churches have been especially raged.

“There’s the altar.”

In the town of Bashiqa, the Daesh also desecrated the tombs of several patriarchs.
Furthermore, in places as symbolic as Qaraqosh, the cloister of the Immaculate Parish was converted into a firing range. This other church was completely burned. After more than two years, the bells were finally ringing again only a month ago.

Monsignor Warda has seen this with his own eyes. That is why he cannot hide his deep suffering, yet at the same time he is still able to convey a message of hope.

Msgr. Bashar Warda, Archbishop of Erbil, Iraq: “When you enter those churches and you see that everything is destroyed … Yes, I feel anger inside, but we have to overcome it. The message is: We have to go back and start living again.”

The bishop, invited to Rome for Aid to the Church in Need, calls on Europe to organize a type of Marshall Plan for Iraq. In other words, countries must stop investing in the war, and instead assist in ways of reconstruction and peace.

Msgr. Bashar Warda, Archbishop of Erbil, Iraq: “We bishops have decided that rebuilding houses is a priority. We have to build houses for people before redoing any church.”

As territories are liberated, the number of people fleeing as a result of fighting between the Daesh, Iraqi, and Kurdish armies increase. That is why Erbil has experienced a new wave of refugees who have also received the help of Christians.

Msgr. Bashar Warda, Archbishop of Erbil, Iraq: “We helped them with eight trucks full of food and clothing because we knew they were suffering, even though we knew some of them had plundered our homes in the plain of Nineveh.”

The vast majority of the more than 150,000 refugees who fled from Nineveh want to return to their villages, but need the assurance that this nightmare will not happen again.