A statement from the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Erbil, Bashar M. Warda follows:
As the Church, our prayers and hopes are always for an end to this never-ending cycle of violence from all participants. We urge all parties to remember at all times their obligations to protect innocent civilians.
Our special concern is for the innocent refugees and displaced of all faiths. In this we must be prepared in Erbil and Northern Iraq for another wave of refugees. We raise this issue now so that the international community can be ready to help if and when the time comes to shelter these innocents. We regret that this appears to be imminent.
Already in Erbil over the past two years we have witnessed a growing number of Syrian Christian refugees who have sought safety within the Christian community here. We expect that should additional Christians seek to flee conflict in Northeast Syria, most of them would come here to Erbil. We pray that the government of Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government, and the international community would not turn them away, but would help in providing for their care, along with all the other innocents of all faiths.
Concerning the complex situation which continues to threaten progress and stability within Iraq, the international community must understand that the minorities will not be able to withstand another serious conflict inside Iraq, especially any conflict that takes place within the fragile homelands of the Christians and Yazidis. In this, the full removal of armed militia units and the re-establishment of substantive, formal and legitimate government control and security is paramount. Continuing tension that results in serious conflict in these areas would mark the end of all efforts to return and instead mark the beginning of an exodus of minorities that no one could control.
We ask that all people pray for the innocents of Syria and Iraq at this critical time.
Bashar M. Warda is the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Erbil, Iraq.