By Joseph DeCaro, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent
BAGHDAD, IRAQ (BosNewsLife)– A modern day exodus of Christians into the autonomous Kurdish regions of Iraq have greatly increased after a series of attacks against them, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Simply put, many Christians were either leaving Iraq, or planning to, IOM said in comments monitored by BosNewsLife Saturday, February 5.
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, IOM said.
“Our monitors do report though that they are hearing of many emigrations abroad, and many more who hope to emigrate in the future,” added 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”.
The All Saints Eve attack on the Baghdad church was the worst in a series of recent assaults aimed at Christians, observers said. 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, according to IOM and other sources.
IOM monitors in Baghdad report that “many” Christians, despite an increase in security measures in the capital, still intend to move.
At least 750,000, and some say even one million, Christians lived in Iraq before the US-led invasion that topled Saddam Hussein in 2003. Hunderds of thousands of Christians have since fled to neighboring countries and the Kurdish regions, according to church and rights groups.