Sunday, September 14, 2014

From Exodus to Exodus, Iraqi Christians Seek New Home

The following excerpts are from

(AFP) -- Threats by jihadists have sent a fresh wave of Christians fleeing their Iraqi homeland, bustling from exodus to exodus in search of a safe haven to rebuild their lives.

Raja Marzina, who has taken refuge in Jordan with her husband and their five children, never imagined she would one day have to leave Iraq for good.

"But we had no choice; we had to flee to save our lives and our religion," she said.

Like dozens of others who fled the orgy of violence unleashed by Islamic State (IS) jihadists this summer, Marzina goes to the Syriac Catholics Virgin Mary church in Amman for prayers and to discuss the latest events back home.

IS militants between June and August seized Mosul, Iraq's second city that was home to a sizeable Christian community, and Qaraqosh, the country's largest Christian town.

Jordan is the transit point for Iraqis waiting to emigrate to North America or Europe, after a stopover in the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

"Around 70 percent of the Christians of Iraq have left their country over the past 20 years because of its successive wars and conflicts," said Wael Suleiman, the Jordan director of the Catholic relief organisation Caritas.

It was estimated their were one million Iraqi Christians before the wave of emigration began, with Baghdad once home to 600,000 of them.

The number of Christians in Iraq has been declining ever since the 2003 US-led invasion and the insurgencies that followed.

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From Exodus to Exodus, Iraqi Christians Seek New Home

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