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Iraq: Southern Christians flee in 'worrying' numbers

ultimo aggiornamento: 09 dicembre, ore 15:47
Forty Christian families have fled the southern Iraq port city of Basra, according to provincial authorities in the Shia-dominated Iraq city.

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Rome, 9 Dec (AKI) - Forty christian families have fled the southern Iraq port city of Basra, according to provincial authorities in the Shia-dominated Iraqi city.

"We have registered the emigration of 40 families, which moved to various European countries or to villages in Iraqi Kurdistan," Saad Petrus, the president of the commission for minorities in Basra province told Al-Sumaria news.

"Many fled after the attacks against the church in Baghdad. The situation deeply shook the Christians of Basra who feared they would be subjected to similar attacks," he added.

He was referrring to an attack against a Christian church in Baghdad on 31 October which left 58 worshippers dead including two priests.

Basra's administrators expressed concern at the Christians' flight, saying there had never been any anti-Christian violence in southern Iraq.

The October assault on the church in Baghdad was one of the worst in a wave of attacks that have targeted Christians in Iraq and have left scores dead over the past two months in the capital and in the northern city of Mosul. Officials in those cities have been encouraging Christians to move to northern Iraq, where they should be more secure.

Petrus asked the government to reinforce security for Iraq's vulnerable Christian minority and to approve the building of new churches.

Many of Iraq's approximately 500,000 remaining Christians are living in fear of their lives after the continuing attacks and death threats unless they leave the country.

There have been calls for Iraq to create an autonomous Christian region in the north of the country, where around 100,000 Christians have taken refuge since the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003.

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