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(from ONE December 2017)

Hard Choices in Iraq
Posted: 12 Dec 2017

image (photo: John E. Kozar/CNEWA) 

Iraqis are facing some difficult choices following September’s referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan, in which an overwhelming 92 percent of those casting ballots in the semiautonomous province voted for secession. We are now seeing firsthand how those results could impact Iraq’s Christians and other minorities, many of whom hailed from the Nineveh Plain and found refuge in the province when ISIS invaded northern Iraq in July 2014.

“Christians have very few choices,” said CNEWA’s Michel Constantin, who directs CNEWA’s emergency operations in the Middle East, “and all the choices are bad.” Those men who had returned to their villages to begin rebuilding their homes now find themselves separated from their families left behind in Iraqi Kurdistan because of the closed roads and borders. Airports remain closed to international traffic, too; neighboring countries, with the exception of Syria, are working to isolate Iraqi Kurdistan, Mr. Constantin said.

In this fluid theater — with a devastated infrastructure, economic uncertainty and insecurity as rival militias contend for power — CNEWA continues to provide support for the education of displaced children and the health care needs of the displaced who remain behind, even as it scales back its emergency operations in those areas where the displaced once found refuge and have left.

While working with local partners to assess needs and determine appropriate responses in the liberated areas — which are unstable and even volatile at times — CNEWA remains committed to outreach efforts, including support for catechetical activities of the churches as well as emergency relief for about 3,000 displaced families.

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