Thursday, 31 July 2003

Rome (Fides Service) – “As the Christian community in Iraq we are deeply saddened by the loss of human lives, Iraqi and American” Father Nizar Semaan an Iraqi Catholic priest, tells Fides Service with regard to the steady trickle of attacks on the American troops in Iraq. “Enough with this bloodshed! Violence leads nowhere. Those who long for the return of the old regime must resign themselves: Iraq has decided to turn a new page in history and there can be no going back to the past” says Father Nizar.
“To put an end to the violence it is necessary to guarantee essential services, water, electricity, public transport, and mots important create jobs. Only when the Iraqi people see their living conditions improve violence will stop. In fact most Iraqis are against the guerrilla forces that attack the American troops. The people are tired of war: they want peace and the chance to build their future. If the Americans guarantee these conditions there will be peace” the priest says.
“However the United States cannot do this alone” says Father Nizar. “There must be United Nations intervention which gives legitimacy to the foreign presence in Iraq. Only then will these foreign troops be seen by the Iraqi people as a force for peace rather than an occupation. In this regard I think united Europe can play an essential role in Iraq, particularly in rebuilding infrastructures and re-launching the economy”.
Besides we could ask who stands to benefit from so much bloodshed? Certainly not the Iraqi people.
There are signs of a slow return to normality in Iraq. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees UNHCR has repatriated 240 Iraqi who fled to Saudi Arabia over twelve years ago. UNHCR says it will bring other groups of Iraqis back from Saudi Arbia and Iran in the coming months. It says that as many as 500,000 Iraqis may ask to return to their homeland and in 2004 the number of Iraqis asking to be repatriated could be even higher. LM (Fides Service 31/7/2003 EM lines 30 Words: 349)