Residents of a fourth century monastery were forced to flee after the take-over of ISIS militants on Sunday 20 July. A member of the Syriac clergy said they were told, “You have no place here anymore, you have to leave immediately.”
According to Agence France Presse three monks, a cleric and a few families who were living there were ordered to leave on foot with nothing but their clothes. They walked several miles before being picked up by armed Kurdish fighters who drove them to the nearby town of Qaraqosh. Qaraqosh is 32 miles from Mosul, where Christians were recently told to convert to Islam, pay a tax, or face the sword.
Syriac Catholic leaders have told the BBC that priceless manuscripts about both the history of Iraq and the church are now at risk in the monastery.
Bloodshed has continued in other parts of Iraq: ISIS militants are reported to have killed Dr. Mahmoud Al-Asali, a professor of Law at the University of Mosul on 21 July, and according to Ankawa.com, Al-Asali, a Muslim, was killed for objecting to ISIS looting and destroying Iraqi Christians’ possessions in Mosul, although this hasn’t been independently verified.
The office and residence of the Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Yohanna Petros has been burned down. He is now in Qaraqosh where he told World Watch Monitor, “My concern now is how to feed and shelter all the people who have fled.”
Open Doors partners have been able to provide emergency relief to 2,000 of the neediest Christian families in Iraq, providing essentials such as food, water, medicine and blankets. Raja, herself a refugee from Mosul, who is now helping in the refugee relief programme supported by Open Doors, told us, “When it was time to distribute the relief packages, the families quickly gathered around us. It was overwhelming. I saw the desperate faces of the old men and the mothers that came to collect their food and I felt so sorry for them.”
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.