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Pope's visit to Iraq will give Christians the message it is important to remain in their country

A few months ago Pope Francis met with ROACO. It is a Vatican organization responsible for bringing aid to the Middle East in the form of scholarships, social and health care. This support is intended to alleviate the exodus of Christians from where their faith was founded.

In recent years, wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen have caused a real humanitarian catastrophe. Many weapons always arrive there, but no aid. Pope Francis denounced this conduct during his meeting.

June 10 2019

"They are people screaming, fleeing, piled up in boats, seeking hope, not knowing which ports will welcome them, in a Europe that opens its ports to ships that will load sophisticated and costly weapons capable of producing forms of destruction that do not spare even children. This is the hypocrisy I'm talking about.”

Caritas Middle East and North Africa

“We need people from this high level to say it. There are very few important leaders who will say it. This is because presidents or governments won't speak about these issues as they have their own interests.”

Karam was one of those present when the pope criticized this hypocrisy. He himself is a victim of the arms industry. He suffered from war in his country, Lebanon, during 1975 to 1990. Now, as regional coordinator of Caritas in the Middle East and North Africa, he is fully aware of the suffering refugees from other countries are now experiencing.

Caritas Middle East and North Africa

"I suffered myself. I've lost people during the war. I've also been injured. It was a horrible experience and I don't like to remember those days. However, I can also sympathize with others that are still living this situation.”

The Church defends the most vulnerable through Caritas. It is especially involved in areas such as Libya, Yemen, Syria and Iraq where it assists people regardless of their origin or religion. Pope Francis also wants to show his closeness to the martyrs in the Middle East. For this reason, he has announced his desire to travel to Iraq next year.

Caritas Middle East and North Africa

“The visit of Pope Francis to Iraq might be a sign of hope for those who are still there. It may also give them a message of how important it is to stay in their land. As ultimately this is there country and migrating, leaving and going somewhere else might not be good for them.”

“Almost none of them are willing or planning to go back. This is because, I can understand, psychologically they have suffered a lot from the war, a lot of horrible things. It was horrible what they experienced, especially lately.”

The war and insecurity in this region has increased the number of internally displaced persons. In Iraq alone there are three million. Among them there are many Christians persecuted by the Islamic State.