Bashar Warda is leading a mission to revive ancient communities torn
apart when self-styled Islamic State extremists tore through them in
Catholics in the north and north-east raised tens of thousands of
pounds to support those who fled the Nineveh Plain to Kurdish-controlled
Families have been living in camps and church-funded accommodation,
amid fears the rest of the Christian population might abandon the region
At least four fifths of the estimated 1.5million Christians who lived in Iraq in 2003 have left.
But now that IS have been forced out of their villages, work has
begun on the £200million-plus task of rebuilding homes, as signs grow
that many want to stay.
Archbishop Warda, the leader of the Chaldean Christians in Irbil, set
out the position when he visited the Granite City yesterday to pay his
“It is really a very critical time,” he told the Press and Journal as he met the Bishop of Aberdeen Hugh Gilbert.
“There is a hope coming back again but we all know that it is a
fragile hope, a hope that really needs to be supported and strengthened.
“We have passed the most difficult faith test.
“Now we are looking for people to continue their support, to continue
their prayers, to continue their efforts of raising awareness.
“Wherever we find people who show sympathy and solidarity and who are
willing to hear our story and help us, it is an act of justice to come
and say thank you and share more details about what is happening.”
He arrived fresh from a private meeting with Prince Charles, who has
spoken out on the issue on the past and who he found “engaged and fully
The visit has been organised by the Aid to the Church in Need, a key player in the recovery effort.
The charity’s UK national director Neville Kyrke-Smith praised the
“outstanding” fundraising efforts of the region’s congregations.
Bishop Hugh said he was delighted to welcome the archbishop and “see all the ways in which we can help and support”.
“There is a great deal of work still to do,” he said.
“Many thought that they would be leaving for good and not come back
but there is now quite a groundswell that they would like to come back.
“But there is both material and social reconstruction needed and it is a big enterprise.
“We are very happy to be a part of that.”