Iraqi Christians face discrimination

ERBIL, Iraq, Aug. 26 (UPI) — Islamic militants have targeted the Christian minority population in northern Iraq, forcing more than 500,000 to flee their homes.
John Klink with the International Catholic Migration Commission said the international community, and the United States in particular, could do more to offer aid to the displaced Christian minorities, said Tuesday.

“The barrier (for refugees) is much higher than it used to be,” Klink said.

While Sweden and several Middle Eastern countries have accepted thousands of Iraqi refugees, the difficulties facing the Christian minority are only now coming to the surface.

Following a visit to France by Chaldean Patriarch Emmanuel III Cardinal Delly, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner brought in some 500 refugees to his country, noting the special circumstances Christians face in Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with Pope Benedict XVI in July following the French decision, bringing some of the Christian crisis to light, Klink said.

But without a clear status of protection by the Iraqi government of the U.S. military, he said the 500,000 Christian refugees are unlikely to return to Iraq.