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12/8/2014 9:48:00 AM
Catholic News Service
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The Knights of Columbus announced its Christian Refugee Relief Fund has donated $2.2 million to help displaced Iraqi and Syrian Christians and other religious minorities who continue to face violent persecution "and the very real prospect of extinction."
"This is a concrete response to the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Iraq and to the urgent appeals from the region as well as Pope Francis' request for material assistance for those affected by this persecution," Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in a statement.
The funds will help provide permanent housing for the increasing number of displaced families in Iraq, according to a news release.
Specifically, it said, the Knights' donation of $2 million will pay for the construction of new homes on property owned by the Chaldean Catholic Archdiocese of Irbil in the Kurdish-controlled region of northern Iraq.
The Knights' Supreme Council, which has its headquarters in New Haven, began the fund in August with $1 million and has since raised an additional $1.7 million in donations from individual Knights, local Knights councils and others, for a total of $2.7 million.
The donations were "accompanied by fervent prayers for all those suffering in the land of the holy apostles," Anderson said.
Houses will be built for Iraqi Christians who were driven from their homes in Mosul and the surrounding area and who have been living in emergency shelters and random locations far from home.
"With winter setting in, already grave conditions are expected to only worsen as these families are going without proper shelter, which is so fundamental to living their lives," said Anderson. "These new homes are signs of hope that will allow this community to begin to blossom once again."
The Knights' Christian Refugee Relief Fund also has made a separate donation of $200,000 in general aid to the Melkite Catholic Archdiocese of Aleppo, Syria.
The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal organization with more than 1.8 million members worldwide.