CHRISTIANS fleeing the sectarian violence in Iraq and
Syria are finding a safe haven in the region of Kurdistan that
spans Iraq's northern border with Turkey.
Sarah Panizzo, a trustee of Gulan, a UK-based charity
that promotes the Kurdistan culture abroad, said: "The situation
for the Christian communities in Kurdistan is good. Christianity is
Less than 30 years ago, Iraqi Kurds were victims of
frequent assaults by Saddam Hussein's forces, including the
poison-gas attack in March 1988 on the town of Halabja, but
the region subsequently received a measure of protection under a
no-fly zone imposed by the United States and British military.
"Since the early 1990s," Ms Panizzo said,
"communities have been rebuilt, the economy is growing, and the
Christians have shared in this increasing prosperity, and their
children in the increased opportunities for education.
The part played by Christians was examined in an
event organised by Gulan, a charity that promotes Kurdish culture,
at the Royal examined in an event organised by Gulan, a charity
that promotes Kurdish culture, at the Royal Geographical Society in
London on Thursday of last week.
The speakers were the novelist and publisher Dr Saadi
Al Malih, a member of the Kurdistan regional government; and Fr
Najeeb Michaeel OP, who founded the Digital Center for Eastern
Manuscripts in the northern city of Mosul.
The centre has been working since 1990 on recording
millions of pages of ancient religious manuscripts, including the
Bible, the Qur'an, liturgical texts, and writings by scholars held
in monasteries and other religious establishments all over the
"Many date from the 12th or 13th century, but most
come from the 17th and 18th centuries" Fr Najeeb said. "They are
being put on line gradually by St John's University, in Minnesota,
in the US, so scholars can study them.
"Many are in very poor condition because of the humid
conditions; so we have been more concerned with their conservation
and digitisation than examining them in detail, but perhaps one day
someone will uncover something that changes our knowledge of the
early years of our faith."
"Sing for Syria". UNICEF UK is inviting people
to "Sing for Syria", writes Gill Newman. There are many
different ways in which churches can get involved, from organising
a concert to carol singing, or simply giving the collection from a
pre-arranged carol service.
In an open letter, Shelley Pigott, of UNICEF UK, wrote: "More
than four million Syrian children are presently in need of
humanitarian aid as a result of this terrible crisis.
"Children are already fragile as a result of this horrific
conflict. They desperately need warm clothes and blankets to
protect them from the extreme cold. Right now, our resources are at
breaking point. Without extra funding we may have to scale back on
some life-saving work. We need your help to reach every child who
The International Development Secretary, Justine Greening,
announced last week that the Government will match, pound for
pound, all public donations to UNICEF UK's Syria appeal until the
end of January.
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