From UK-based Catholic newspaper The Tablet:
A Canadian Jewish businessman has told The Tablet he has overseen the rescue of more than 120 Christian and Yazidi girls kidnapped by so-called Islamic State (IS) in northern Iraq as Pope Francis condemned the "silence" of the international community in the face of ongoing persecution of Christians and other religious minorities.You can donate here.
Steve Maman, 42, an entrepreneur, founded the Liberation of Christian and Yazidi Children of Iraq (CYCI) after the jihadists overran the cities of Mosul and Sinjar a year ago, forcing more than 100,000 civilians, including virtually all the region’s Orthodox and Catholic population, to flee.
Francis in a letter to Iraqi refugees in Jordan issued on Thursday, a year after the jihadists' offensive, said: "Many times I have wanted to give voice to atrocious, inhuman and inexplicable persecution against people in many parts of the world - above all Christians - who are victims of fanaticism and intolerance. Often this persecution occurs where it can be seen and heard yet all are silent. These are the martyrs of today, people who are humiliated and suffer discrimination because of their fidelity to the Gospel."
In a matter last August, the jihadists took up to 7,000 Yazidi women and girls, some as young as 13, into slavery. An unknown number of Christian women and girls were also kidnapped. CYCI estimates that around 2,700 are still being held by IS.
Mr Maman, who cites as a personal hero Oskar Schindler, the German who saved as many as 1,200 Jews from the Nazi Holocaust, works closely with a team of negotiators based inside IS-held areas, who work to reunite the Yezidis with their families. “We liberate children from their captors through the use of on-the-ground brokers,” he said.
The charity receives money for rescue missions from Mr Maman’s mainly Jewish business associates, who, he said, have been “remarkably generous”. But the said his approaches to 60 church organisations in Canada, including parishes in Montreal and national bodies, have failed to attract support.
“This is a finite problem that can be solved with money,” said Mr Maman. “We need Christians to open up at the same rate as my Jewish friends have.”
CYCI collaborates with Anglican Canon Andrew White's Foundaition for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, which is providing shelter to hundreds of people who have fled IS.