In 2016, thanks to your donations of more than $2.7 million to Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), you helped care for families affected by conflict in Iraq, and those that fled to Lebanon and Jordan. About $500,000 came from generous Canadians like you.
It has been more than two years since ISIS drove 120,000 Christians from the historic home of Iraqi Christianity, the Nineveh Plain. They found refuge in the Kurdishcontrolled region of Iraq, scattering across many villages and camps.
What some hoped would be a temporary stay has become a longstanding, bitter fact of life for the suffering Christians. Even as the tide turns against ISIS, many say they cannot imagine returning to Nineveh. Instead, thousands are going to Jordan and Lebanon, joining previous waves of
war-weary Iraqis looking for stability and a possible exit from the troubled Middle East. Those who remain, meanwhile, feel stranded and are losing hope.
Since the earliest days of the crisis, CNEWA Canada has worked with the churches of Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon — as well as the churches displaced by ISIS — to address the enormous needs of Iraqi refugees. Our help is available to all, but especially to the most vulnerable: Christians and other religious minorities. Thanks to the generous support of compassionate people like you, we made a difference in thousands of lives during 2016.
In Iraqi Kurdistan, you helped provide 1,500 newly displaced and extremely poor families with much-needed milk, diapers, winter clothing and heating fuel. In Jordan and Lebanon, 3,248 Iraqi families received the same emergency assistance, along with blankets, space heaters, mattresses and tents.
You funded improvements to three Catholic schools in Iraqi Kurdistan and assisted two with basic expenses. 1,728 refugee children benefited from this support. In Jordan, you provided tutoring, English classes, computer literacy classes and catechesis for 583 refugees at the Pontifical Mission Community Center. Another 650 children in Lebanon received tutoring from our church partners.
81,425 refugees in Kurdistan received lifesaving medical care from three health clinics and a mobile clinic established, equipped and sustained by CNEWA donors. 804 refugees in Jordan were cared for by two hospitals and a mother and child clinic operated with your support by religious sisters. You also helped 1,299 extremely vulnerable refugees in Lebanon get urgently needed medical attention.
CNEWA’s donors helped the Don Orion Fathers and the Young Women’s Christian Association to develop self-help projects for Iraqi refugees in Jordan. 65 Iraqi families are now growing and marketing vegetables in two greenhouses built with your support. And 82 refugee women learned how to make and sell household necessities such as soap.
3,191 children and teenagers in Iraq, all Christians and all affected by the emotional wounds of war, participated in spiritual retreats sponsored by our supporters. You also funded retreats, trauma counseling and a summer Bible camp in Jordan, benefiting hundreds of children and families. In Lebanon, you provided trauma counseling to 487 mothers and their children and provided religious education to 100 Christian boys and girls.
Building Up the Church
Finally, you supported the spiritual formation of young men and women to serve the Christians of Iraq as parish priests, religious sisters and lay
evangelists. Without your help during this time of violence and disorder, Iraqi Christianity could not survive.
The needs of displaced Iraqis remain great, even as their situation stabilizes. Unemployment is high, particularly in Jordan and Lebanon, where refugees cannot work legally. Poverty is soaring as host communities struggle to absorb those seeking safety. Looking at the Nineveh Plain, from where the crisis began, much of the area is free of ISIS but the displaced cannot return home. Mines litter the agricultural fields, and houses, schools, churches and mosques are burned out shells.
Thank you for helping CNEWA Canada to meet these challenges. Because of you, we can continue to assist the refugees of Iraq. Your support has never been more important.