Iraq Church chief fears nation can not address Covid-19

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Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako(Photo: Aid to the Church in Need)

A Church leader in Iraq has voiced concerns about the growing number of Covid-19 cases in the country. 

According to the authorities, confirmed coronavirus cases have topped 5,000, with 175 fatalities. 

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, who heads the largest Christian community in the country, is pleading with people to stay home as the country faces a new crisis from the pandemic. 

He told Aid to the Church in Need that people have limited protection from the virus because of poor health infrastructure in the country, which is still recovering from years of conflict and the recent defeat of ISIS.

“The situation with the virus is getting worse – it is not possible to control it,” he said. 

The Patriarch said there was little else people could do to protect themselves except stay at home, but the message is still not getting through.

“There are many problems – no money, not enough hospitals, doctors or equipment – and the lockdown is against the culture here, especially for the men,” he said. 

“The people must stay at home. This is the only way to stay safe. 

“The government are telling people what to do but people are not listening.”

Patriarch Sako knows of at least five Christians who have lost their lives to the pandemic. 

“The Christians are mostly following the laws. They are usually more open-minded about the need to follow the government instructions,” he said. 

The Church has reponded to the crisis by distributing emergency aid for Christians and Iraqis of other faiths.

Iraq is one of the countries to receive some of ACN’s £4.5m Covid-19 response package. 

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