Refuges in Iraq
A former assistant Provincial of Slovakia felt like he was going to a sure death when he was asked to go to refugee camps in Iraq, a country largely dominated by the Islamic extremist group ISIS.
Peter Gerasak SJ eventually made the decision to go when he asked himself, ‘If my family was from Iraq, would I hesitate to go there?’ He also opted to work with Muslim and Christian refugees in Lebanon, as part of his one year tertianship (final stage of Jesuit training) based in Dublin. Fr. Gerasak found spiritual consolation more in being with the refugees rather than any work he did.
There are almost 2 million internally displaced people in Iraq as a result of ISIS domination. Fr. Gerasak says, ‘Many of those people are sharing this experience of continuous fleeing’ from places like Mosul to Qaraqosh to Erbil. Erbil is considered ‘safe’ due to a US military base and the presence of ISIS 15km away. Peter challenges the listener when he says that the hopes of the Iraqi people rest primarily with us – that they are willing but not able. He suggests that our concern as Christians may stir us to ‘pray for these people and raise children to be aware that there are people who are needy.’
He explained more to Pat Coyle that the refuges he met weren’t fleeing for the first time.