Kidnapped Nuns and Orphans in Iraq Released
Chaldean Patriarch Overjoyed, Says No Ransom Was Paid
VATICAN CITY, July 16, 2014 (Zenit.org) – The Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon is ecstatic that nuns and orphans being held captive in Iraq have been released.
“I am overjoyed at the release of the two sisters and three orphans,” the Patriarch of the Chaldean Church Mar Louis Raphael I Sako said, because it is “finally some good news” in a context of war, violence and division, reported AsianNews.it.
Noting that no ransom was paid, he made these remarks upon the news of the release of Sister Atur, Sister Miskinta and the three young children who were seized last June 28. The two Chaldean nuns belong to the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary Immaculate which ran a foster home for abandoned and orphaned children in Mosul, near the Chaldean Archbishopric.
Their captors were linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS, Sunni jihadists linked to al-Qaeda), which now declares itself the army of the Islamic caliphate.
Expressing his “joy” at the “good news,” the patriarch explains that “contacts were established by the people of the city,” who helped “in obtaining their release.” He added that the sisters and orphans were held “in a house in Mosul, but they were treated well, they were all together. The sisters feared for the safety of the girls, but there were no problems.”
The sisters spent “17 days of captivity praying for their release and for peace in Iraq,” the patriarch said. According to him, money was not paid in exchange for their release, but the Islamists “just took their car, a new pick-up.”
“The sisters are relieved and happy,” His Beatitude said, adding, “they have taken their personal belongings and returned to Dohuk,” in Iraqi Kurdistan, where they found refuge on having to flee their convent.
The news of the release of the nuns, however, comes amid a climate of war, divisions and violence. UN sources report that, in the month of June alone, at least 2417 Iraqis, including 1513 civilians, have died “in acts of violence or terrorism.”
Over 1 million people have fled their homes because of fighting between the army and Islamist militias. It is the worst crisis since December 2011, when U.S. troops left the country. the death toll does not include those of Anbar province, in the hands of Sunni militiamen. (D.C.L.)