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Iraqi Christians speed exodus to Kurdistan: report

ICC Note:

According to the International Organization for Migration, fearful and threatened by more attacks, Christians continue to flee to Iraq’s Kurdish north, Agence France-Presse reports.

2/6/2011 Iraq (AFP) – An exodus of Christians to the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq’s north has accelerated after a spate of attacks against the minority group, according to the International Organization for Migration.

An official from the organisation also spoke Sunday of reports that many Christians were either leaving Iraq, or planning to emigrate.

By the end of January, 1,078 families had moved to the three provinces that comprise Iraqi Kurdistan since an October 31 attack on a church in Baghdad by Al-Qaeda militants left 44 worshippers and two priests dead, IOM figures show.

A total of 331 families moved in the six weeks immediately following that attack, while a further 747 have left the rest of Iraq for Kurdistan between December 15 and the end of January.

The report noted that “monitors in Baghdad report that Christians continue to face grave threats” and “despite increased security measures an atmosphere of extreme insecurity persists among Christians remaining in Baghdad and many still intend to move or emigrate.”

Between 800,000 and 1.2 million Christians lived in Iraq before the US-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003, but that figure now is estimated by religious leaders at 400,000.

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