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News

Two nuns disappear from Mosul as Iraq's bishops plead 'Save us!'
07 July 2014 13:19 by Liz Dodd, Ellen Teague

Two nuns are among five Assyrians believed to have been kidnapped while visiting a girls’ orphanage in northern Iraq in an area now controlled by the Islamic State.

Sisters Miskintah and Utoor Joseph, part of the Chaldean Daughters of Mary Order that ran an all-girl orphanage in Mosul, had returned to inspect it after the area fell to the Isis terrorist group two weeks ago. They have not been heard from since.

The sisters, along with three other Assyrians they were travelling with, Hala Salim, Sarah Khoshaba and Aram Sabah, are believed to have been kidnapped by Isis.

Last week the Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Mosul appealed to international politicians and organisations to “save us!”

He asked them “to intervene immediately to put a stop to the deterioration of the situation, working not only at a humanitarian level, but also politically and diplomatically”.

Archbishop Yohanna Petros Moshe of Mosul was speaking as Qaraqosh, the Christian majority town in northern Iraq, 25 miles from Mosul, that became “almost a ghost town” after 10,000 people fled when it was attacked with mortar shells on 27 June.

Archbishop Moshe reported that people had “fled from their homes in a few hours, taking with them only the clothes they were wearing”. Syriac Catholic priest Nizar Semaan, who works with Archbishop Moshe, underlined that “the archbishop does not ask to resolve the situation by sending more weapons to the Middle East”.

“Inaction becomes complicity with crime and abuse of power. The world cannot turn a blind eye to the tragedy,” Archbishop Moshe said.

The archbishop’s attempts to mediate between the opposing forces in order to preserve the historic city from being destroyed appear to be in vain. Sunni insurgents led by the jihadists of Isis, and the Kurdish Peshmerga militias that oppose their advance, look set to clash head on there.

“Qaraqosh and the other cities of the Nineveh Plain have been for a long time places of peace and coexistence,” reported the archbishop. “We just want to live in peace, work with everyone and respect everyone.”

Isis, now calling itself Islamic State in line with its ambitions to establish a caliphate under its terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, now controls approximately one-third of Iraq and one-quarter of Syria.

Above: An estimated 1,300 of those who have fled their homes since Isis seized power last month have taken refuge at the Khazer camp near Irbil. Photo: CNS/Reuters