U.S. fighter jets and drones have also attacked militants firing on the Yazidis around Sinjar, which is in the far west of the country near the Syrian border.
After Kurdish fighters opened a path to the border, thousands of Yazidis have been pouring across the river into Kurdish-controlled parts of Syria. Those crossing told The Associated Press they had lost their sisters, daughters, children and their elderly parents, describing militants randomly spraying machine gun fire in their direction as they fled.
Patriarch Sako said there are 70,000 displaced Christians in Ankawa, near Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan, along with other religious minorities in a city that already has a population of more than 25,000 Christians. He said families who found shelter in churches or schools are in a "rather good condition," but that others, sleeping on streets and in public parks, "are in a deplorable situation."
"In Dohuk, the number of Christian refugees’ amount to more than 60,000, and their situation is worse than those in Erbil," the patriarch said. Others have gone to Kirkuk, Sulaymaniyah, and Baghdad.
The patriarch lamented that the needs for housing, food, water, and medicine are escalating, while "international coordination is slowing and limiting the realization of an effective assistance to these thousands awaiting immediate support. The Churches are offering everything within their capacity."
Meanwhile, in Mosul and in the Christian villages left behind by the refugees, churches are deserted and have been desecrated; five bishops have been forced to leave their bishoprics, priests and nuns have left their missions and institutions, and families have fled with their children, abandoning everything. "The level of disaster is extreme," he said.
Commenting on solutions for the problems, he said: "The position of the American president Obama only to give military assistance to protect Erbil is disappointing. The talks about dividing Iraq are threatening. The Americans are not up to a rapid solution to give hope specifically as they are not going to attack the ISIS in Mosul and in the Nineveh Plain. The confirmation that this terrible situation will continue until the Iraqi Security Forces will fight along with Peshmerga against the ISIS militants is very depressing. The President of the Kurdistan Region said that the Kurdish troops are fighting with a terrorist State and not minor groups. While the country is under fire, the politicians in Baghdad are fighting for power."
He expressed his fear that in the end, neither Mosul nor the villages of the Nineveh Plain will be liberated. "There is no strategy to dry up the sources of manpower and the resources of these Islamic terrorists," he said. "They control the oil town of Zumar and the oil fields of Ain Zalah and Batma along with the oil fields of Al-Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor in Syria. The Islamic extremist fighters are joining them from different countries around the world."
Thus, refugee families have the choice to migrate—if they have the money and necessary documents (though many had their identity papers and passports stolen by the Islamic terrorists as they fled their towns)—or stay in their refugee camps, living in a kind of limbo.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.