Emergency aid for Christians demanded following attacks

Open letter

To the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel
Göttingen/Berlin, 8th January 2008
Attacks on churches and monasteries cause flood of refugees from Iraq – Please finance the aid programmes for expelled Christians!

Dear Chancellor,
Once again a wave of attacks has shattered the Christian community in Iraq . Almost simultaneously bombings took place last Sunday at the beginning of the Orthodox Christmas celebrations on seven churches, monasteries and Christian welfare organisations in Baghdad and Mosul .

Many Christians who have remained in the Arab dominated part of the country in spite of the threats from Islamist fanatics are now joining the flood of refugees into the small neighbouring countries of Jordan and Syria . In the peaceful autonomous federal state of Iraqi Kurdistan, in which some tens of thousands of Christians have found refuge, the capacity to take more is limited.

Little notice has so far been taken in the world of the fate of these refugees. Our human rights organisation has documented the persecution of the Christian Assyro-Chaldaeans in central and southern Iraq and constantly pointed out to media, politicians and the general public that they are there the victims of deliberate attack, abduction, murder, torture and other repressive acts and so the whole Christian religious community has been forced to an exodus after nearly 2000 years in their traditional homeland. But our information and documentation has produced – with few exceptions – little more than expressions of general but vague concern.

Dear Chancellor,
Three quarters of the 650,000 Iraqi Christians who were still in the country in 2003 have been driven out already. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are pouring into Jordan and Syria without being cared for in any way. Many have to squeeze into cellars, they have hardly any medical attention and often there is no room for their children at the schools. Iraqi Kurdistan also needs support for the new arrivals. The international community has up to now reacted to this emergency situation in a totally inadequate manner. Now our small neighbour, the Netherlands , is giving a good example by providing six million euros for the Assyro-Chaldaean refugees.

But there is still a desperate lack of funds to ensure that not only the basic needs are covered. They must be in a position to build up a future for themselves and their children. So I urgently appeal to you in the name of the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV): Please help the Christian refugees from Iraq and provide at least 50 million euros as an immediate contribution for the aid and settlement programmes in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Yours Truly,
Tilman Zülch
General Secretary (Tel. 0151 153 09 888