40% of Christians Have Left Iraq

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Basnews | Nawzad Majid
After Islamic State (IS) militants took control of Nineveh province, 120,000 Iraqi Christians moved to the Kurdistan Region and since then, about 40% of them have left the region and moved abroad.
Thomas Nino is a Christian from Duhok province in the Kurdistan Region, told BasNews that when IS insurgents took control of Nineveh, eight siblings’ families moved to his house and remained there for two months, before they emigrated to different countries.

“Now, there is only one family left in our house. We are all trying to finish our documents so that we too can emigrate,” said Nino.

Director of Christian Affairs in Duhok Ma’an Sleman Mikhu spoke to BasNews, he said that all Christians in the province are safe, but they are overwhelmed and feel insecure due to the emergence of IS militants in northern Iraq.

He said that Christians in the Kurdistan Region want to leave not just the region, but Iraq as a whole. They are looking to move to countries with a Christian majority.

Mikhu noted that due to the threat of IS militants in northern Iraq, more than 120,00 Christian people have entered the Kurdistan Region; 6,000 families settled in Duhok and 12,000 families are residing in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region.

“Not only Christian refugees, but also those who have lived in Duhok for a long time, have started to emigrate. Large numbers of them have left the country and those who are left now are also trying to leave the country,” said Mikhu.

Commenting on which countries Christian families move to, he said, “None of the countries have officially stated that they will accept refugees, but most of them move to Australia, Canada, and the US as those countries welcome them and provide them with the a special place.”

Amanoel Dawud, Director of Assyrian Education in Duhok, pointed out that Assyrian schools have been open for almost 21 years in Duhok following a law passed in the Kurdistan parliament. There are more than 30 Assyrian schools where they study in their own language, but after IS emerged in northern Iraq, many of them have fled the country which has resulted in a decrease of Assyrian students and teachers in schools.

“In the last three months, 53 Assyrian teachers asked for one year permission to move to abroad and this has created a large gap in the schools,” added Dawud.

He said that Assyrian schools also lack native teachers and other neccessities for primary schools students.