(Vatican Radio) This Holy Week in Iraq, Christians and Muslims will walk for 140 km through the Nineveh Plain in the name of peace and the end of violence in a once mostly Christian inhabited area.
The peace march is supported by the Chaldean Patriarchate, which declared 2017 as “the Year of Peace”.
The march started in Ankawa, a suburb of Erbil city in northern Iraq, after participants took part in Palm Sunday Mass. The march will continue through Holy Week and will end in Qaradosh, close to the ruins of the Assyrian cities of Nimrud and Nineveh, about 32km from the city of Mosul.
The Nineveh Plain is filled with ancient, religious sites. When the area was captured by so-called Islamic State terrorists in the summer of 2014, historic architecture and archeological remains, including the UNESCO world heritage site Hatra, were destroyed. Part of the territory was liberated in November 2016 by Iraqi forces. However, many towns and villages occupied by Christians were abandoned.
An estimated 100 people from Iraqi and other countries are expected to walk through these historic lands.
During the week-long journey, participants will pray for the rebirth of these abandoned towns as well as for peace and for the will to overcome all forms of violence.
The march aims to sow the seeds for a new the beginning of healing for a population torn apart by conflict and violence.