Pope Francis is asking the United Nations to take action to stop the violence in Iraq. In a letter addressed to the UN's Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, the Pope makes an urgent appeal for security, peace and assistance to refugees in Northern Iraq. This as Christians and other minorities continue to be targeted and forced out of their homes.
In the letter, he also calls on the UN and its member countries to exercise the humanitarian laws in place. Furthermore, he asks for assistance and solidarity to help the displaced so that they can ultimately go back home.
On Tuesday, the Pope's personal envoy, Cardinal Fernando Filoni boarded a plane from to Iraq. His task is to express the Pope's solidarity with the displaced and to promote peace talks. From 2001 to 2006 Filoni was the Apostolic nuncio in Baghdad, refusing to leave the country when the bombings began.
In yet another statement, the Vatican's Cor Unum Council, which deals with charity, announced that at least 4,000 families have been helped by Caritas and other Catholic charities in the region.
READ FULL LETTER:
Mr Ban Ki-moon
Secretary General/United Nations Organization
It is with a heavy and anguished heart that I have been following the dramatic events of these past few days in Northern Iraq where Christians and other religious minorities have been forced to flee from their homes and witness the destruction of their places of worship and religious patrimony.
Moved by their plight, I have asked His Eminence Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who served as the Representative of my predecessors, Pope St John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, to the people in Iraq, to manifest my spiritual closeness and to express my concern, and that of the entire Catholic Church, for the intolerable suffering of those who only wish to live in peace, harmony and freedom in the land of their forefathers.
In the same spirit, I write to you, Mr Secretary-General, and place before you the tears, the suffering and the heartfelt cries of despair of Christians and other religious minorities of the beloved land of Iraq. In renewing my urgent appeal to the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway, I encourage all the competent organs of the United Nations, in particular those responsible for security, peace, humanitarian law and assistance to refugees, to continue their efforts in accordance with the Preamble and relevant Articles of the United Nations Charter.
The violent attacks that are sweeping across Northern Iraq cannot but awaken the consciences of all men and women of goodwill to concrete acts of solidarity by protecting those affected or threatened by violence and assuring the necessary and urgent assistance for the many displaced people as well as their safe return to their cities and their homes. The tragic experiences of the Twentieth Century, and the most basic understanding of human dignity, compels the international community, particularly through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities.
Confident that my appeal, which I unite with those of the Oriental Patriarchs and other religious leaders, will meet with a positive reply, I take this opportunity to renew to your Excellency the assurances of my highest consideration.