Rebuilding Iraq

NEW YORK – An emergency appeal to aid in the rebuilding of Iraq has been launched by Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA).

Msgr. Robert L. Stern, CNEWA’s Secretary General, announced that proceeds from the Iraqi Relief Fund will boost emergency relief programs already begun by CNEWA as well as support long-term health care initiatives and a variety of social and humanitarian works of the local church.

“Quietly and inconspicuously CNEWA has, since 1991, channeled more than $4 million in aid from the Catholic world to assist Iraqis in need,” Msgr. Stern said. “Through the Amman office of our operating agency in the Middle East, the Pontifical Mission, we have sent funds and supplies, particularly medicines and medical supplies, using a grassroots network of Iraqi bishops, priests and sisters.”

Despite the war, CNEWA’s relationship with this network remains intact, Msgr. Stern added, citing the opening of 3 of the 19 planned emergency relief distribution centers even before the end of hostilities.

“Communication is difficult,” said CNEWA’s Regional Director for Jordan and Iraq, Ra’ed Bahou, “but our partners in running these centers, the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena, have already opened their convents as centers where families receive basic foodstuffs – oil, rice, macaroni, tea and sugar – and potable water.”

These emergency relief distribution centers are located in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul.

“We are also working with the local church to develop education, job training and job creation programs as well as health care initiatives,” Mr. Bahou added.

“In addition to providing support to two Catholic hospitals in Baghdad – Al-Hayat and St. Raphael’s – CNEWA is planning with the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena to open a prenatal and postnatal clinic in the Mosul area modeled after our Mother of Mercy clinic in Zerqa, Jordan,” Mr. Bahou said.

Mother of Mercy Clinic, administered by the Dominican Sisters, a Chaldean Catholic community based in Mosul, treats more than 30,000 people a year, most of them young women and their children drawn from Zerqa’s sprawling Palestinian refugee camp.

“CNEWA has the network and the plans already in place,” Msgr. Stern concluded. “But we don’t have all the money needed.

“Iraq is people. Rebuilding Iraq involves individual persons in need. Rebuilding Iraq requires love.”

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