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Miami. Malteser International is responding to the acute humanitarian crisis in Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of people – mainly Christian and other religious minorities – have fled persecution by the extremist group Islamic State (IS). The relief agency of the Sovereign Order of Malta announced today a pledge of $500,000 to match gifts from U.S. donors dollar for dollar.
“Helping the sick, the wounded, and those fleeing persecution in the Middle East was the Order’s original mission 900 years ago, so the current plight of Iraqi Christians and minorities has moved us deeply,” says Ravi Tripptrap, Malteser International Americas’ executive director. “We are doing everything in our power to bring immediate relief to those in need and ensure their survival.”
A Malteser International response team arrived yesterday in Erbil, north Iraq, in order to prepare relief efforts for the displaced minorities. The emergency relief team on the ground is preparing the distribution of survival kits and emergency medical relief for the next three months, which will benefit displaced Christians and Yazidi communities that have fled from the IS’ violent attacks and death threats.
Those who wish to support the relief efforts with a donation can do so via Malteser International’s Paypal donation page, or by sending checks or money orders to: Malteser International Americas, 75 Valencia Ave., Suite 702, Coral Gables, FL 33134, including the reference “Iraq/Middle East relief”.
For over a decade, Malteser International has supported a health care center in Karamlish, in the Nineveh region, in cooperation with its Iraqi partners and the local Chaldean Catholic Church. On Aug. 6, IS took control of the town, and the center was forced to suspend its activities.
The Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra’ Matthew Festing, has declared his ‘deep and serious concern’ at the events in recent days. In declaring it an ‘unacceptable persecution of the Faith,’ he has requested the members and volunteers of the Order of Malta to pray for the Iraqi people and for an end to violence and religious discrimination.