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Missionaries of Charity Nuns refusing to leave Baghdad

Sisters of the Mother Teresa-founded Missionaries of Charity congregation have vowed to remain in Baghdad to care for Iraqi orphans during hostilities expected to begin today.

"These children need us, we must look after them," said Sr Densy.

Sr Densy and three other colleagues who run an orphanage in the Iraqi capital are refusing to leave the country, even as UN volunteers, weapons inspectors and journalists are exiting ahead of an impending US-led war.

Sr Densy spoke to Bangkok-based UCA News after morning Mass celebrated by a priest working as secretary at the Apostolic Nunciature in Baghdad. The Agency said it took numerous attempts over two days to connect with the convent's single phone line.

Three of the nuns in the convent are from India, the fourth is from Bangladesh. Sr Densy, local superior of the congregation, said all her nuns would remain with the children even if war breaks out.

Meanwhile Caritas-Iraq has 80 agents and 15 centres spread throughout the country, which provide food for some 10,000 families and 20,000 children; potable water for 300,000 people; and medical care for some 6,000 individuals.

Because of the crisis, Caritas-Iraq has transferred its operating structures to Amman, Jordan. It has prepared 400 doctors and volunteers to assist. 87 churches have been designated as centres of refuge and protection for civilians.

With the help of the Caritas international network, Caritas-Iraq has provided for the purchase of essential goods, sanitary and water purification equipment, and medicines for 40 health centres.

UCA News/Zenit

[Ireland's] Trocaire prepares to give humanitarian aid to stricken Iraqis (Irish Catholic)
Caritas Jerusalem prepares for effects of war in Iraq (Independent Catholic News)

20 Mar 2003