“It is with a heavy and anguished heart that I have been following the dramatic events... in Northern Iraq where Christians and other religious minorities have been forced to flee from their homes and witness the destruction of their places of worship and religious patrimony,” the Pope said in a letter released by the Vatican on Wednesday.
Reminding Ki-moon that the “systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities” being committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) ”compels” the U.N. to act, the pope renewed his “urgent appeal to the international community to take action to end the humanitarian tragedy now underway,”
“I encourage all the competent organs of the United Nations, in particular those responsible for security, peace, humanitarian law and assistance to refugees, to continue their efforts in accordance with the Preamble and relevant Articles of the United Nations Charter,” the pontiff said.
“The violent attacks that are sweeping across Northern Iraq cannot but awaken the consciences of all men and women of goodwill to concrete acts of solidarity by protecting those affected or threatened by violence and assuring the necessary and urgent assistance for the many displaced people as well as their safe return to their cities and their homes.”
“The tragic experiences of the Twentieth Century, and the most basic understanding of human dignity, compels the international community, particularly through the norms and mechanisms of international law, to do all that it can to stop and to prevent further systematic violence against ethnic and religious minorities.”
Archbishop Silvani Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative at U.N. headquarters in Geneva, recently told Vatican radio that “military action in this moment is probably necessary” to prevent the further slaughter of Christians in Iraq.
Tomasi said he hopes for “some political and even effective military protection” from the world body.
On Thursday, the U.N. declared Iraq its highest “Level 3 Emergency” as “a humanitarian crisis follows the advance by Islamic State (IS) militants in the north.”
The designation will “facilitate mobilization of additional resources in goods, funds and assets to ensure a more effective response to the humanitarian needs of populations affected by forced displacements,” a U.N. official said.
The U.N. estimates that 1.2 million Iraqis have been displaced by fighting in 2014.