Iraqi Christians speed exodus to Kurdistan

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

by Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Worthy News)-- A modern day exodus of Christians into the autonomous Kurdish regions of Iraq greatly increased after a series of attacks against them, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Simply put, many Christians were either leaving Iraq, or planning to.

Earlier this year, more than 1,000 families moved to Iraqi Kurdistan after an All Saints Eve attack on a church in Baghdad by Al-Qaeda militants left 44 worshippers and two priests dead.

"Our monitors do report though that they are hearing of many emigrations abroad, and many more who hope to emigrate in the future," said IOM Displacement Monitoring Officer Keegan de Lancie.

"Colleagues in Turkey have reported a spike in Christian families seeking refuge there," said de Lancie, "and I myself have encountered recently displaced Christian families from Nineveh here in Amman where I'm based".

IOM monitors in Baghdad report that many Christians, despite an increase in security measures in the capital, still intend to move.

The All Saints Eve attack on the Baghdad church was the worst in a series of assaults aimed at Christians. Ten days later, another series of attacks against Christian shops and homes in the capital killed six and wounded 33 others, and on Christmas Eve, attacks against 15 Christian homes in several Baghdad neighbourhoods killed two more.

About one million Christians lived in Iraq before the US-led invasion that topled Saddam Hussein in 2003, but that figure is now estimated to be cut in half.