During 2019, in the Middle East where the existence of Christians is constantly threatened, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) funded the rebuilding 2,086 homes on the plains of Nineveh in Iraq. These homes were among those destroyed under ISIS’s regime of massacres and terror.
This is one of the highlights in ACN’s annual report released recently detailing projects carried out during last year by its 23 national offices, including ACN (Malta).
Altogether, the charity sponsored 5,230 projects, providing humanitarian assistance for a wide range of needs in 139 different countries, mainly in Africa and the Middle East. Priority countries in Africa included Nigeria, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Democratic Republic of Congo where Islamic fundamentalism and jihadist terrorism are wreaking havoc among the faithful.
In addition, ACN has spoken up for persecuted Christians before international organisations such as the United Nations and the European Union, and published reports on the situation of these suffering Christians, using national and international media. It has also invited victims to speak at international meetings, events and conferences enabling them to give personal witness to the situations, which are often unknown or ignored in Europe.
For 2020, and despite the critical economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, the ACN foundation looks to keep up the level of support to priests and religious and those they serve in some of the poorest countries and remote mountainous and forest regions. Additionally, the charity has organised other emergency aid programs for suffering Christians, notably in Pakistan.
Apart from sustaining the faith, the circumstances demand that these priests and religious develop other skill sets to assist in community building, teaching writing and reading, and instilling human values and dignity in the young for the future. Sometimes, these unique and committed individuals also use their knowledge and experience to help a community in need of building infrastructure or administrative systems. They also become a point of reference for the poor and the afflicted who have no one else to turn to. In most cases, priests are operating on their own while in some instances, they are supported by dedicated lay persons that carry out part of their social workload.
The main pillars of ACN’s mission include the financial support for various aid projects, providing information about the situation of Christians in various different countries, and projects focused on emergency and survival aid, especially in Syria and Iraq.