BAGHDAD, Iraq (LifeSiteNews) — The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad is attempting to intercede with Iraq’s Islamic government for several hundred Christians who are about to be displaced in the nation’s capital.
Cardinal Louis Raphael Soko has taken to heart the plight of up to 400 Christians currently living in the “Virgin Mary Complex” who will be displaced soon due to a government order to vacate the buildings.
Having spoken to government authorities to address the needs of the families residing at the complex, the Patriarch said he was doing everything he could to help the residents, many of whom have already faced displacement from their hometowns during the ISIS takeover.
“We ask distinguished officials,” Sako said, “to look into this urgent humanitarian issue and extend a helping hand to these families, for whom it is impossible to find alternative housing so quickly. The Church has helped these families as much as it could. These are Iraqi families, and this is a humanitarian situation.”
“The Church is doing its best,” he continued, “to stop the deportation of the families who were displaced from several areas in the Nineveh Plain. The complex also contains non-displaced Christian families who do not have the financial means to rent houses to live in.”
The Baghdad government, which owns the property where the buildings stand, has ordered them vacated by the end of the year.
A similar attempt to evict Christian families at the complex was made in 2020, when the Baghdad Operations Command issued the residents an order to vacate. The order was rescinded when hundreds of Christians protested, demanding the Ministry of Migration and Displacement to reverse the mandate.
Several Iraqis shared the uncertainty they now face again after previous displacements. Suhaila Abdel Karim, current resident of the “Virgin Mary Complex,” recounted, “We left the Nineveh Plain to the Qaraqosh area, then went to Dohuk Governorate, and then we came to Baghdad in 2014. Now we face an unknown fate.”
Another Iraqi woman, Mary Osama, a student, came to the complex for its proximity to the schools in the capital. “I left the Hamdaniyah district,” she said, “and went to Baghdad. After the opening of the Virgin Mary complex for the displaced, we moved here because of the services provided, especially since schools are close to the complex.”
Baghdad Auxiliary Bishop Basilio Yaldo said in a statement that the diocese is planning to use several church buildings in the area to house the displaced families and Christians. Work on the centers is already underway. According to the bishop, the residents of the complex include Christians of all churches: Chaldeans, Syriac Catholics, Syriac Orthodox, Assyrians, and others.
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