31 May 2016, The Tablet

Displaced Iraqi children make First Holy Communion in makeshift camp

The children and their families fled the city of Qaraqosh when Islamic State terrorists attacked last year

A large group of displaced Iraqi children living in a makeshift camp in Erbil, Iraq, made their First Communion on Friday (27 May).

Out of the 5,500 people living in Erbil’s Aishty 2 camp for the displaced, the majority – more than 2,000 – are children. Of these, 470 are making their First Communion in three different groups between 27 May and 10 June.

All of the children are from the Syriac-Catholic rite, and most fled the city of Qaraqosh, Iraq, with their families when Islamic State terrorists attacked on the night of 6 August 2014, according to a report by Catholic News Agency.

Syriac-Catholics have now been left without any official diocese or headquarters. Residing in a largely Chaldean-dominated Erbil, they have been welcomed by the local Church.

Friday’s Mass was celebrated by Syriac-Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Yohanno Petros Moshe in the camp’s large, prefabricated church.

With a capacity for roughly 800 people, the church started out as a tent when the Christian refugees first poured into Erbil two years ago, asking for a place to pray. Now it serves as the main parish for the city’s Aishty camp, which is the largest in Erbil and is divided into three smaller camps: Aishty 1, 2 and 3.

The majority of people in the camp are from Qaraqosh, which is where the former See of their Church had been located before ISIS’ assault in 2014.


Photo: courtesy of Deacon Roni Momica

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