UNHCR receiving Iraqi Christians in Syria

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DAMASCUS, Syria, Oct. 22 (UPI) — The U.N. refugee agency Wednesday said it had ramped up its efforts in Syria to help Iraqi Christians who have fled the country amid targeted killings.

Thousands of members of the Christian minority in Iraq have sought refuge in the outskirts of Mosul or fled to Syria in an effort to escape the growing threat to their community.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said in a feature Wednesday they have received around 400 Christians entering Syria from northern Iraq.

“We are ready to provide support for those Iraqis that seek refuge in neighboring countries,” said Laurens Jolles, the UNHCR representative in Syria. “We are grateful that Syria continues to welcome refugees.”

UNHCR officials said they have expedited the registration process for Iraqi Christians who have arrived at their offices in Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo. A team was dispatched to the Iraqi border to aid the flow of refugees fleeing the violence, the report said.

Several Christians received by UNHCR officials report growing threats to their community in northern Iraq. The reports suggest Christians are being threatened with death if they do not leave the region.

Eleven Christians were killed recently after showing identification cards to armed men dressed in police uniforms at a checkpoint. It remains unclear who is behind the attacks.