NEW HAVEN, Conn., Dec. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Knights of Columbus is giving a 30-day supply of food to 12,000 displaced or formerly displaced Christian families in northern Iraq to coincide with Christmas.
"The Knights of Columbus is pleased to help bring a Merry Christmas to those displaced by ISIS or now returning home to recently liberated areas," said Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson. "These Christians have lost everything for their faith, and we want them to know that they are not forgotten and that their sacrifices inspire us in our own faith."
Valued at $840,000, the Christmas baskets contain food staples such as wheat, rice, beans and meat, along with cleaning supplies. With the assistance of the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Erbil, the Knights' gift is being distributed to Syriac Catholic, Syriac Orthodox and Chaldean Catholic families, as well as Yazidis.
"Even though we are still in a time of great uncertainty, the knowledge that our brothers in the Knights of Columbus are in solidarity with us, especially at this time of year, brings great comfort," said Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil. "God bless them all."
The K of C has committed more than $17 million in aid to Christians and other religious minorities in the region since 2014.
"We will be able to celebrate a true Christmas in our ancient Christian town of Karamles for the first time in years," said Father Thabet Habib, parish priest of the town, which is located on the Nineveh Plain.
Karamles was a predominantly Christian town before ISIS overran it, driving out inhabitants, damaging or destroying homes, and desecrating churches. The inhabitants have been able to return in recent months, thanks to the defeat of ISIS and a commitment of $2 million by the Knights of Columbus to help restore much of the town's infrastructure.
"We will be giving thanks this year for the wonderful Christmas gift we have received — the return of our town," said Father Thabet.
In addition to advocating on the behalf of persecuted religious minorities in Iraq, Syria and the surrounding region, the Knights also assisted Christian refugee programs in Lebanon and Jordan and provided aid to those targeted by ISIS in Egypt.
The Knights led a major campaign urging Congress and the State Department to declare ISIS' terrorism an act of genocide in 2016. To support the cause, it produced a nearly 300-page report on ISIS' atrocities against Christians and gathered 140,000 signatures for a petition calling for a declaration of genocide.
In addition, the K of C has urged the U.S. government to ensure that communities targeted for genocide not be overlooked. The Knights applauded Vice President Mike Pence's recent announcement that the Trump administration will begin providing aid directly to religious minorities impacted by ISIS' genocide.
More information on the Knights' efforts is available at www.ChristiansAtRisk.org.
SOURCE Knights of Columbus