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AMMAN – On Tuesday, August 8, Our Lady of Peace Center welcomed Father Patrick Desbois, a French priest committed to defend  persecuted minorities. He listened to the poignant testimonies of Iraqi refugees hosted at Our Lady of Peace  Center and Caritas in Jordan.

He was accompanied by Father Imad Twal, priest of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem with members of the NGO “Yahad in Unum” (“Together in One”) and were received by Father Shawki Baterian, Director Our Lady of Peace Center.

“Yahad in Unum” was founded by Father Desbois.  It aims to gather testimonies from victims of massacres and genocides that have marked the 20th century and continue today: the Holocaust and genocide in Rwanda, Darfur, in the Balkans and, more recently, minorities such as the Yezidis (notably through the Action Yezidis program), Shabaks, Shiite Muslims and Christians in Syria or Iraq. The NGO wants to shed light to the truth about these realities too often hidden and forgotten so quickly in the general indifference. The association “Yahad in Unum” is also very involved in job creation projects, allowing victims of violence of Daesh to rebuild and restore human dignity humanly and to learn to live and move on despite past sufferings.

There were specialists with the team, among them Costel Nastasie, who co-wrote with Father Desbois, a book entitled “The Factory of Terrorists”.

Primarily, the purpose of this visit was to meet Iraqi families from the Plain of Nineveh, who work and some live at Our Lady of Peace Center. It was a fraternal  and a sharing of their heartbreaking stories.  The families, originally from Mosul and the surrounding Christian villages, including Qaraqosh, Karamless and Telesqof, left everything to escape the violence of Daesh in Nineveh. Father Desbois and his team also met with the Ambassador of France and the employees of Caritas Jordan who manage the project of the Garden of Mercy of Our Lady of Peace Center, made possible by Pope Francis, during his visit to Jordan in 2014, which provides employment and income for these families who are waiting for a visa to a host country. The Garden of Mercy produces olive oil, soaps, medicinal plants and carpentry furniture.

Father Desbois also went to Madaba, a historically Christian city, that welcomes and employs Iraqi refugees in parishes, allowing them to work on a project called “Living Mosaics”. This program, was jointly launched by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Caritas Jordan under the leadership of Raghda Zawaideh in 2016, and in the same way as the Garden of Mercy of Our Lady of Peace Center allows refugee families to earn from their mosaic work and production, while waiting for a visa to a host country.

Remy Brun

To find out more about the “Yahad in Unum” association, click here.

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