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ICC note: This article gives a small part of what the Christians in Iraq are going through.

6/13/2006 Iraq (IRIN) Minority Communities Look Abroad for Asylum–Maria Canderi, a 34-year-old teacher, is one of hundreds of Iraqi Christians who – fearing their rights are not protected under the national constitution – has decided to leave Iraq to escape ongoing sectarian violence.

“Most of my family has sought asylum in the Netherlands , because we found ourselves discriminated against and because we don’t have our rights guaranteed under the new constitution,” Canderi said. “The sectarian violence has led to the death of dozens of Christians and Assyrians, among others – I don’t want to be another victim.”

Christians – mostly Assyrians, Chaldeans, Armenians and Catholics – as well as Yazidis, Sabeans and Jews, who together represent only 12 percent of the country’s population, have all suffered from the lack of security. Additionally, many who have worked with the central government or with US-led occupation forces have been targeted by insurgents.

“They’ve been threatened or subjected to robbery or kidnapping for ransom,” said Joost Hiltermann, Middle East director for the International Crisis Group (ICG). “They’ve tried to either leave the country or move to the Kurdish region, which has been relatively safe.”

“Those who already have relatives abroad will find it relatively easier to gain asylum,” said Hiltermann. “For example, Christians already have an active Diaspora, so their applications are accepted more readily.” The more we try to remain within society, the more Christians are targeted and killed on the streets of Baghdad .

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