Francis wants first papal visit to Iraq

Pope Francis made the improvised remark in an address to members of a group of charities. (File/AFP)
Updated 10 June 2019

Francis wants first papal visit to Iraq

  • Iraq is home to many different eastern rite churches, both Catholic and Orthodox
  • Iraq’s small Christian population of several hundred thousand suffered particular hardships when Daesh controlled large parts of the country

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis said on Monday he wants to travel to Iraq next year, which would be the first ever papal trip there.
Francis made the improvised remark in an address to members of a group of charities that help Christians in the Middle East and other areas.
“A constant thought accompanies me when I think of Iraq,” he said in prepared remarks, then adding: “Where I have the will to go next year.”
Wars and conflicts have led to an exodus of Christians in Iraq and some other countries in the Middle East.
Iraq’s small Christian population of several hundred thousand suffered particular hardships when Daesh controlled large parts of the country, but have recovered freedoms since the militants were pushed out.
Iraq is home to many different eastern rite churches, both Catholic and Orthodox.
In 2000, the late Pope John Paul wanted to visit the ancient Iraqi city of Ur, traditionally held to be the birthplace of Abraham. It was to have been the first leg of a three-step pilgrimage to Iraq, Egypt and Israel.
But negotiations with the government of then Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein broke down and he was unable to go.


World Bank ramps up support for fragile MENA countries

Updated 5 min 44 sec ago

World Bank ramps up support for fragile MENA countries

  • Some of the countries already specified by the World Bank as recipients of the coronavirus aid are Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, and Morocco

DUBAI: The World Bank has rolled out financial support efforts to address public health needs, particularly for developing countries, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The international organization said it has been collaborating with countries across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to “dispatch immediate help,” Farid Belhaj, World Bank Vice President for MENA, said, as quoted by the Kuwait News Agency.

World Bank earlier announced the Fast-Track COVID-19 Facility for developing nations, which includes financial support, policy advise and technical assistance.

“This effort will continue throughout the crisis and beyond, as we work to save lives, slow the spread of the pandemic, and hasten the recovery across the region,” Belhaj added.

Some of the countries already specified by the World Bank as recipients of the coronavirus aid are Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, and Morocco.