Louis Raphaël I Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq, is asking for the lands and homes of Iraqi Christians to be returned to them.
The patriarch expressed gratitude to the international community for the emergency measures undertaken to prevent further massacres by ISIS.
But on Friday, he noted concern because as yet the Iraqi homes and farms (the majority of them belonging to Christians) in the fertile plains of Nineveh are still under ISIS control; and that no effort is being made to recover them.
In a statement obtained by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, the Patriarch explained that up to now the Church has been playing an active role principally in hosting and securing “a survival quality of life” for more than 120,000 Christian refugees, many of them children, elderly and women. Among these refugees too, however, are farmers; they are the owners of those stolen or damaged farms covering the vast Nineveh Plains. The inability to return to tend the land with the onset of winter only a few months away adds a further concern, the Patriarch said: the risk of a famine.
“Nothing has been planted. Farms and materials have been damaged or stolen and we have as refugeesin our Churches, hospitals and schools, in a state of total dispossession, some of the most qualified Iraqis who could pick the country out of its war misery,” the prelate said. “Winter is only months away and those lands need to be tended to as soon as possible or else the ghost of famine will start its quick march toward the survivors of this war.”
Patriarch Sako appealed to the international community to support the Right of Return of the displaced Christians –so that they may reclaim their villages before winter arrives.
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries.