Religion News Service spoke with Catholic Relief Services’ Kris Ozar about the situation in Iraq, where Ozar is leading Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) emergency response for Christians and Yazidis who fled their homes under threat from the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS). CRS and partner Caritas Iraq are providing food, water and essential home items to families in need, some of whom were rescued from Mt. Sinjar. From Religion News Service:
(RNS) Kris Ozar, 37, is in charge of programming for Catholic Relief Services in Egypt and is now in northern Iraq coordinating the charity’s emergency efforts with other groups, such as Caritas Iraq. He has been working with Christians and Yazidis forced to choose between conversion to Islam or death by the Islamic State.
Ozar spoke with Religion News Service’s Kimberly Winston from Irbil, Iraq, about the challenges refugees face. Some answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Q: The Christian and Yazidi refugees have been rescued from Mount Sinjar. What is the situation where you are right now?
A: From my window, I can see a church compound and it is filled with tents and there are hundreds of people inside those tents. Everyone talked about getting (the displaced people) off Mount Sinjar, and that was an amazing challenge, but what we forget is that the most amazing challenge lies ahead.
Vatican Radio: Clashes Continue in Iraq as the Displaced Seek Shelter
CRS Presence, Life-Saving Aid Is Felt Across the Middle East
Christians Persecuted in Iraq: MSNBC’s Hardball Interviews CRS
Iraq: CRS Response Strategy During Displacement Crisis