Iraq: Death of Chaldean archbishop condemned

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New York, 14 March (AKI) – The top United Nations official in Iraq has strongly condemned the death of Monsignor Paulos Faraj Rahho, the Archbishop of the Chaldean Church of Mosul, who had been kidnapped by gunmen last month.

Staffan de Mistura, the UN secretary-general’s special representative and the head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), described Rahho’s death as “especially abhorrent, committed in cold blood against a man who has dedicated his entire life to the pursuit of peace, non-violence and reconciliation between different faiths and groups.”

Rahho had been kidnapped in Mosul in northern Iraq on 29 February after leaving his church in an attack that led to the killing of his driver and two of his bodyguards.

His body was found in a shallow grave in the city after a tip-off from his captors. It is not clear whether he was killed, or died of natural causes. Nobody has claimed responsibility for his death.

In a statement issued by his office, de Mistura called on Iraqi authorities to do everything in their power to safeguard the protection of minorities and their human rights.

The envoy has previously emphasized that the protection of minorities is enshrined in the national constitution.

The religious leader is only the latest of many members of the Christian and other minority communities in Iraq to be killed, abducted or forced to flee their homes.