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New Custodian of the Holy Land

May 20, 2016. Friar Francesco Patton is the new Custodian of the Holy Land. He succeeds Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who was in office for the last 12 years. Friar Francesco Patton is 52 years old from Vigo Meano (Italy). He graduated in Communication Sciences from the Pontifical Salesian University of Rome and until now was the provincial minister of the Order of Friars Minor in Saint Vigilius of Trent.

Where are Iraqis fleeing to?

2014-08-14

From one day to another they became refugees. The Iraqi region of Kurdistan has been welcoming minorities who lost it all amid violence and persecution. 

They were able to escape from extremists who want to impose an Islamic State at all costs. They're considered part of the lucky ones who survived, but it's hard to escape that dark chapter. 

FANNI 
Iraqi refugee 
"Families with children and babies are still out in the mountains. They were planning on staying four days, but there was nothing to eat, just wheat from the fields. We have to save them. We're fine here. We don't need anything. But for God's sake, let's bring them back. We're willing to die here, as long as they're safe.” 

Radical Islamists gave an ultimatum to ethnic and religious minorities: Convert to Islam, pay a tax or die. In a matter of hours, thousands of people fled from Mosul, where for centuries religious co-existance was a reality. 

In Erbil, refugees have also been welcomed in churches like this one. Here a combination of prayer, fatigue and helplessness are part of every day life. 

SAADIA 
Iraqi refugee 
"Our area was affected by the violence. In fact I saw three people die. We are their targets and we can't take it anymore. We don't want to die, we want to live. We have rights and we don't want them to take our land away. But it's what's happening.” 

JOE HANNA 
Iraqi refugee
"I still have family members trapped up there. But the question is why? Why can't we find a solution. My relatives are there, waiting and trapped. What did we do to deserve this? They were threatened and told they needed to surrender or convert to Islam.” 

Christians, Yazidis and other minorities continue to be targeted by Islamic extremists.


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