08/18/2004, 00.00
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Some 40,000 Christians in flight from Iraq

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – "Forty thousand Iraqi Christians have left Iraq since a wave of church bombings killed at least 10 people two weeks ago," this according to Iraqi Minister for Displacement and Migration Pascale Isho Warda, who was quoted in Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

 "The number of Christians who have left Iraq has reached 40,000, according to the latest statistics," said Ms Warda, the only Christian member of the interim government. This wave of emigration "is due to insecurity and the attacks on the churches in Baghdad and Mosul two weeks ago."

The minister did not shy away from expressing her fears about "the serious rise in numbers of Iraqi emigrants because of the multiplication of terrorist operations and insecurity which threatens all Iraqi communities, including Christians."

Fear is pushing Christians to give up commercial activities, close their stores, sell their homes and seek refuge in Kurdish areas of Iraq, in Jordan, in Syria. However, the long term goal for many is going to Australia or Sweden where there are old Iraqi expatriate communities.

Christians represent around 3% of Iraq's 24 million people most of whom are Muslim. About 600,000 of Iraq's 700,000 Christians follow the Chaldean rite. (DS)

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