by Karen Faulkner, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – Christian villages in Iraqi Kurdistan have been “emptied” in the last year as Turkey’s air force continues to bomb Kurdish forces connected to the PKK movement, Asia News reports. Christians have also fled from the cities of Zakho, Dohuk, Erbil, only to return because of airstrikes on the areas they escaped to.
In an interview with Asia News, Fr. Samir Youssef, parish priest of Enishke in the diocese of Amadiya, said his area “had been spared from the violence” for a long time, but that now the fear among residents “is tangible.”
Fr. Youssef explained that, in addition to dealing with the COVID-19 virus, his parishioners are now afraid of the “virus of bombs.” The airstrikes have halted tourism, which was just beginning to recover from the pandemic. “The fear of being hit is too high, with the inevitable consequences for restaurants, hotels, and other activities that were restarting after Covid-19,” Fr. Youssef said.
“The same goes for those who have factories: more and more of them are abandoned,” Fr. Youssef added. Moreover, those who work the land “do not want to cultivate it not to run the risk of being hit, [in case they are] mistaken for a militiaman.”
The elderly and children are afraid, Fr. Youssef said.