(Vatican Radio) Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako is expressing concern for the some 120,000 Iraqi refugees who’ve fled Mosul and villages in the Nineveh Plains. In an interview with the Italian periodical Oasis, the Iraqi Patriarch said the children need to go to school and with winter approaching, families need shelter and warmth. Tens of thousands of Christian and Yazidi refugees are now in northern Iraq to escape the violence and death threats of the extremist militants Islamic State (ISIS). “120,000 people are paying the price of a kind of violence that has no justification, carried out in God’s name in word only, but in reality for economic interests,” the Patriarch said.
The only exit strategy from the current conflicts, Patriarch Sako said, is through dialogue among the various groups involved. He observed that coalition airstrikes against Islamic State militants may slow the advance of the extremists but said that ground forces “in collaboration with the local government and Kurds” are what is really needed. But this will have little effect, he noted, without “a long term strategy” to “destroy the sick ideology that supports the actions of the violent.” He added, “they are a danger for the entire world – not only for the Middle East. Rather, perhaps moreso for the West which doesn’t understand the language and the Islamic ways of action. ISIS kills everything that it believes does not conform to it’s idea of Islam. They’re out of step with history.”
While many Christians are opting to flee the region the Patriarch said, practical steps must be taken so that those who want to remain, can. “Everyone talks about democracy, about reforms, about change," he said. "But above all, what is needed is a new form of education that uproots the jihadi mentality as soon as it sprouts. Only in this way, with a ‘new education’ adopted by Muslim families for the new generations, can one think of a future for Christians (in the region). It is also a safe future for you in the West. Maybe it is here that the jihadists are most dangerous. Because the radical imposition of Islam (it: islamizzazione radicale) is their objective and you in the West don’t understand them, don’t know what they mean when they talk. A new way of educating young generations is needed, one that stems from constant reciprocal acknowledgement, an indispensable factor.”