Iraqi Christians Begin To Return To Mosul – UNHCR

GENEVA (AFP)–Iraqi Christians are beginning to return to the northern city of Mosul after fleeing a wave of targeted violence against their communities last month, the U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday.
Iraq’s human rights ministry estimates that around 2,275 families – roughly half the city’s Christian community – abandoned their homes and jobs in October, taking shelter in Christian villages on the northern and eastern fringes of Nineveh province.
A fact-finding mission by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees found that around a third of the 1,000 families displaced in the Al Hamdaniya area had now returned to their homes in Mosul.
“Displaced families began to return about a week ago, with assurances from their Arab neighbors about improved security in the city, which has seen a beefed-up presence by Iraqi security forces,” UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond told journalists.
“Those who remain displaced say they still fear the uncertainty and political instability in the region. The general lack of law and order in Iraq’s second largest city has been a serious concern not only for Christians but other minorities as well,” he added.
Since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003 more than 200 Christians have been killed across Iraq and a string of churches attacked, with the violence intensifying in recent months, particularly in the north.
Around 800,000 Christians lived in Iraq at the time of the invasion, but the number has since shrunk by around a third as members of the minority community have fled the country, according to Christian leaders.
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