The Knights of Columbus has launched a fundraiser to raise more than $2 million to support the Archdiocese of Erbil to rebuild an Iraqi Christian town that was destroyed by the Islamic State.
The Knights of Columbus, the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization, is hoping the rebuild will allow displaced citizens to return home.
"In talking with the folks in Iraq, the next 60 days are critical that if we don't start moving people home, they are going to start leaving the country for good," Andrew Walther, the Knights of Columbus vice president of communications and strategic planning, told The Christian Post.
"With the Christian population having fallen from 1.5 million to somewhere in the neighborhood, maybe a little south of 200,000, it's a now-or-never situation."
The town, Karamdes, is about 18 miles southeast of Mosul. In 2014, the Islamic State captured many of the territories around Mosul, forcing many to flee their homes.
Iraq-led coalition forces have since pushed out ISIS soldiers, and the Knights of Columbus is hoping this means they can get to work on rebuilding the more than 750 Christian homes that were damaged or destroyed.
"Several hundred families would be moved immediately — those with the least disastrous homes that could be rehabbed more quickly. The things that are totally flattened take more time," Walther explained. "Could we stabilize 400 to 600 homes very quickly? Absolutely. What I am told is these people would be back in their homes by the end of August."
The Knights of Columbus is asking parishes, organization and churches for $2,000 donations— the approximate cost of resettling one family back to Karamdes.
"Christianity is reaching a tipping point," Walther said. "We have been told in 60 days, if there aren't signs of hope and construction and people starting to move home, if this process doesn't begin in the next 60 days that people will just start leaving in droves and Christianity in Iraq will reach the point of no return."
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: August 3, 2017