Christian presence key to Mideast stability, Iraqi leaders tell UN

Christian leaders from Iraq told the United Nations and the international community on Nov. 30 that the key to stability in the Middle East was to recognize Christian presence there and to allow the displaced believers to return and prosper.

(REUTERS / Ahmed Jadallah)An Iraqi Christian soldier guards the church of Saint Barbara after it was recaptured from Islamic State in Qaraqosh, near Mosul in Iraq. November 3, 2016.

During the U.S bishops' Week of Awareness and Education for Persecuted Christians, Iraqi leaders attended a U.N. discussion called "Preserving Pluralism and Diversity in the Nineveh Region" to talk about ways to improve the situation of minorities displaced during the occupation of the Islamic State in 2014. The event was co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, the Holy See's Mission to the UN, and the Nineveh Reconstruction Committee, Crux detailed.

Now that the region is free from ISIS, Chaldean Catholic Diocese of Alquoch vicar general Fr. Salar Kajo appealed to the international community to address the deplorable situation of the Nineveh Christians. He said the people there slept "with suitcases already packed" for fear of another incident which could drive them out once again from wherever they were staying.

"If stability cannot come in these next few months, the Christians will leave the land of Nineveh forever," Father Kajo said. "I ask this body, please do not forget the persecuted minorities of the Nineveh plains."

Last month, Erbil Catholic archbishop Bashar Warda asked U.S. President Donald Trump to help his people rebuild their lives after the battle against ISIS. He said it would take $262 million to rebuild the community destroyed by war, but the Iraqi government reportedly could not help with this task, the Christian Broadcasting Network relayed.

Archbishop Warda also emphasized the urgency of his people's situation and said help was needed "now, not tomorrow."

It has been more than a month since U.S. Vice President Mike Pence admitted that Christians and persecuted minorities have not been receiving the help they need, but there is still no result of his promise to address that problem.