Cor Unum in Iraq: reaching out to refugees and aid workers
(Vatican Radio) Back in the Vatican after a mission to visit Syrian refugees in Iraq, Bishop Segundo Tejado Munoz brings the witness of hope and despair of millions on the run from war and persecution.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni:
Bishop Tejado Munoz, Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, told Vatican Radio of his journey together with a delegation from Cor Unum and with the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis, to the heart of refugee camps in the Kurdistan province of Duhok, where huge numbers of Syrian refugees have fled for their lives.
Amongst the 250,000 registered refugees in the area are many Iraqi Christians from Mosul and villages in Ninive province whose exodus has been caused by the offensive of so-called Islamic State jihadist militants.
Bishop Tehado Munoz explains that the aim of his mission was to meet with the displaced families, and above all – in his role as Undersecretary of Cor Unum whose mission it is to care for the needy – to bring concrete solidarity and help to the aid agencies and humanitarian workers who are responding to the needs of the refugees…
They are the ones doing the work – says Tehado Munoz – but they are often forgotten. As Church – he says – we bring our contribution but they are our hands and our arms… so often they work in extremely difficult situations
Bishop Tehado Munoz says that the Church manages to reach out to these people thanks to the presence of the local Church and the local Caritas; in this case – he explains – Caritas Iraq that coordinates the entire operation,
He speaks of his journey from Erbil towards the village of Duhok, of his visits to some of the refugee camps and of his meetings with aid workers and operators, including the UN representative to the area who expressed deep preoccupation for diminishing funds and the consequent risk of having to cut some vital humanitarian programmes.
Tehado Munoz describes a scenario which is complicated from an organizational point of view and very very serious from a humanitarian one.
Bringing with him the gifts of two icons of Our Lady blessed by Pope Francis, Bishop Tehado Munoz says “we were bringing the Easter message of Christ’s resurrection and the certainty that even in such a difficult and dramatic situation, there is the light of the Risen Christ” and the hope it brings.
The figures – he says – speak of over two and a half million Syrian refugees: but it is persons we are talking about: we touched them with hand, he said, we touched the suffering of these people, these families…