Iraqi refugees in France raise money to help Christians in Tel Keppe
Due to the prolonged war against ISIS, many Christians had to flee their homes in North-Iraq, leaving the large Christian towns almost entirely abandoned. Although the Islamic State is no longer a threat, most refugees cannot return to their homes because they are in a dilapidated state.
With this problem in mind, the Iraqi Christians of Nantes organise fundraising activities to help their brothers and sisters rebuild the villages that were affected by the civil war.
A little group of Iraqi refugees raises money at the Saint-Clément church, in Nantes. After every Mass, they greet the faithful at the front door of the church and offer them an orange in exchange for a donation. This operation is called “Orange for Christmas,” as they started this project in the days coming up to Christmas. The monies collected go towards the financing of reconstructions projects in Tel Keppe, a village near Mosul, that was ruined by ISIS.
Camil, aged 36, is one such volunteer. He fled to France when the civil war between Iraq and Kuwait began. He said the idea of the “Christmas Oranges” was the brain-child of Pierre-Louis Lavigne, the director of the Raoul Follereau Foundation.
Camil added that the volunteers care about the future of Christianity in the Middle-East and try to help their brothers and sisters whenever they can.
Iraq has been plagued by wars since 1980. The cause of the first conflict was over who controlled the petrol sources. In 2006, the political conflict turned into a civil war between the Shiites and Sunnites that ended in 2014 with the creation of the Daech in East-Syria.
During these wars, minorities such as the Christians, that were caught in the crossfire, have suffered greatly. Many Christians fled to Kurdistan and to Europe to save their lives; the most significant flow of emigrants happened because of the heavy fighting in the summer of 2014.