Iraq: Series of attacks on churches – Direct help for refugee projects needed

PRESS RELEASE Göttingen/Arbil, 13^th July 2009Iraq:A series of attacks on churches means that direct help for aid projects for Christian refugees is neededFollowing the most recent series of bombings involving six churches in Baghdad last Sunday the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) is calling for direct support for aid projects for Christians who have been expelled in Iraq. “Extremist Islamists are systematically aiming at driving out the remaining 100,000 Assyro-Chaldaic Christians from the Iraqi capital”, said the GfbV Near-east consultant, Kamal Sido, on Monday in Göttingen after a telephone conversation with GfbV colleagues in Iraq.

“For these refugees and for the expelled Assyro-Chaldeans, who are stuck in refugee camps in Jordan or Syria, projects must be set up to resettle these people in the Nineveh Plains in the province of Mosul in the north of Iraq, which are inhabited mainly by Christians”, says the letter of the human rights organisation to the governments of the EU states, Canada and the USA. This would provide them at last with a viable future in their own country.

A plebiscite must also be carried out in the Nineveh Plains on the possibility of an annexation to the neighbouring autonomous federal province of Kurdistan, which must also receive support for the settlement of refugees. In Kurdistan many Christians have found asylum because they have relatives there. The EU states must also be prepared to take in larger contingents of Christian refugees from Iraq. Germany has to date granted entry permission for only 2,500 particularly needy refugees.

A car bomb which exploded outside the Maria Cathedral of the Ancient Church of the East killed at least four Christians in Baghdad on Sunday.
Many people were injured. Explosions also took place outside St.
Joseph’s Church in the west, outside a Christian church in the Al-Karrada quarter and in the Al Ghadeer quarter in the east, outside a church in the Dora quarter in the south and outside a sixth church in the city. There was also a report by GfbV colleagues of an attack on a Christian in the city of Kirkuk in the north of Iraq, where there are large oil reserves. There the General Director of Finances, Aziz Rezgo, was shot by unknown assassins outside his house in the Domez quarter.

Information provided by the GfbV show that more than three quarters of the approximately 400,000 Christians living there have since 2003 fled from Baghdad, a city of five million inhabitants. Very few still dare to go to religious services or to send their children to Christian schools.

The “Chronicle of Violence” against Christians and Mandeans in Iraq, which has been kept by the GfbV since the fall of Saddam Hussein, shows that a terror attack was carried out on the Maria Cathedral on 24.09.2006, killing two people and injuring 17. The Church of St. Joseph was already severely damaged by an attack in 2004.

The Chronicle of attacks on Christians in Iraq can be obtained by eMail from the GfbV ( ). The Chronicle is constantly brought up to date.>>>>>>>>>>>>> Für Menschenrechte. Weltweit. <<<<<<<<<<<<<<< Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker / Society for Threatened Peoples P.O. Box 20 24 – D-37010 Göttingen/Germany Nahostreferat/ Middle East Desk Dr. Kamal Sido – Tel: +49 (0) 551 49906-18 – Fax: +49 (0) 551 58028
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