Dear sisters, brothers, and friends
We would like to update you on the situation here in Iraq, especially in the province of Nineveh. The two Chaldean Sisters (who belong to the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate) and the three orphans were released on Monday, July 14th. The sisters told me that they were treated well. We thank God for their safety. However, their car was taken away with the valuable items they had with them, also the ISIS took the keys of their convent in Mosul. Moreover, the ISIS gave the sisters a message to inform the Patriarch and the bishops. The message is that the Christians have three choices:
- To be converted into Islam
- To pay Aljizya (pay tribute) to ISIS
- To leave Mosul with only their clothes on.
Patriarch of the Chaldean Church Mar Louis Sako informed Christians of Mosul the message and via bishops and religious of Mosul and told them to leave the city as soon as they can; so they started leaving on July 16th.
On July 18th we were surprised to hear that the ISIS started taking possession of belongings of Christians who were leaving the city; belongings included money, personal documents, passports, cars, and all valuable items. These families arrived to the Christian villages disheartened as the ISIS did not only take possession of their belongings, but also the properties of Christians and Muslim Shiites (their opponents). These properties were marked with a letter “N” for “Nazerene” to indicate Christian properties and “R” for “Rafidheen” which means rejecting to indicate Shi’i Muslims who are rejecting the ISIS control.
That generated fear and horror among the people of towns around Mosul especially the closest Christian towns like Karakosh and Talkef. Despite this, the Church in cooperation with locals in these and other villages is trying to provide places to live and food supply for the arriving refugees; despite the fact that these towns still lack water and electricity. People are cooperative in order to provide water -they are digging wells. As for electricity, the best we can get is six hours a day. We ask your prayers for God’s protection in this time of crisis.
The violence is not only centred in Mosul. Along with Mosul in a nearby town called Tal Afar, which is mostly Muslim Shiites, the ISIS expanded their control and obliged people there to leave the town. They are staying at Khazir refugees’ camps.
We were informed that the coming days will be even more difficult. The central government is intensifying the random airstrike over Mosul.
We will have our annual retreat this week, despite the hard situation, so that the convent might be a prayer place at this troubled time.