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Iraqi Christian refugees flock to Germany

ICC Note

Germany is granting asylum to thousands of Iraqi Christians refugees. The Iraqi Christians were forced to leave their homes due to attacks by Islamic extremists.

03/19/2009 Iraq (International Herald Tribune)-More than 100 Iraqi Christians in search of a safer life will arrive Thursday in Hannover , a German official said.

The group of nearly 120 refugees will arrive a day before the sixth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq on a chartered plane from Syria . And many more are expected.

The resettlement is part of a program sponsored by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. It is expected to help 10,000 Iraqi Christians relocate to Germany , Sweden and elsewhere in Europe .

“This program gives people who cannot return to their homeland a chance at a better life,” Interior Ministry spokesman Heinrich Huebner said Wednesday. “High priority refugees not only include religious minorities, but women and children and people with illnesses who cannot receive medical help, as well.”

The Christian minority in Iraq has faced years of violence and intimidation from al-Qaida in Iraq and other Islamic extremists. In addition, Iraqi Christians are sometimes caught in the middle of a power struggle between Kurds and Sunni Arabs.

Germany will eventually be home to about 2,500 Iraqi Christians, Huebner said. And Sweden recently agreed to accept 450 refugees from a refugee camp in Syria , he said.

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