Iraqi Archbishop calls on Trump to aid 20,000 Christian families displaced by ISIS

(Reuters/Zohra Bensemra)Newly internally displaced boys carry mattresses upon their arrival at Al Khazar camp near Hassan Sham, east of Mosul, Iraq.

Bashar Warda, the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, has called on President Donald Trump to redirect U.S. aid to 20,000 Iraqi Christian families who were driven from their homes by Islamic extremists.

In an interview with Agence France Presse, Warda called for urgent action to provide assistance to 20,000 Iraqi Christian families, or around 100,000 people, who were displaced following years of attacks by Islamic radicals and other conflicts.

"This is a just case. They are persecuted, they are marginalized and they are in need," the bishop said in his plea to the Trump administration.

Warda noted that some 4,000 families have already returned to rebuild the town of Qaraqosh, which is Iraq's largest mainly-Christian community. However, smaller villages are still at risk due to clashes between government forces and the Kurdish militia.

Christians in a recently-rebuilt town had to abandon their homes for a second time following clashes between the government and the Kurds, which once fought against the Islamic State.

In the town of Tel Eskof, 900 families are living with their bags packed so they could leave quickly when conflicts rise again.

Warda said that Christians and other minority groups like the Yazidis will be on their own unless they receive help from foreign donors.

He said that the community now has high hopes that the Trump administration will send help as Hungary and Poland have already contributed to the cause.

"You are not just helping them because they are Christians, but because they have been persecuted and left behind," the bishop said.

Last month, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the State Department has been ordered to send U.S. aid directly to faith-based organizations that are providing aid to Christians and other religious minorities. Previously, much of the humanitarian aid sent by the U.S. had been funneled through the United Nations.

In October 2016, Warda disclosed that most of the aid to his diocese came from churches, bishop conferences and religious organizations like Aid to the Church in Need and Knights of Columbus.

"We haven't received any funds by the government. They don't care because of the corruption, because they are busy with so many other issues," he lamented at the time.

Statistics have shown that the Christian population in Iraq has fallen from 1.5 million in 2003 to 200,000 today.

Warda said he is hoping that 2018 will be the year when Christians who chose to remain in Iraq will rebuild their homes as well as the centuries-old churches by the Tigris river.

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