Iraq: thousands of Christians flee Mosul
Malteser International provides health care in Kurdish autonomous region
Karamless, Northern Iraq. A region controlled by the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) extremist group that is about 20 kilometers away from Mosul, Iraq. Malteser International is providing health care in a building turned provisional health center owned by the Chaldean church. A Christian community lives in Karamless; because of the continuous displacement of Christians into the region, the community is growing in the small Northern Iraqi village. Along with the TCCF (Turkmeneli Cooperation and Cultural Foundation) our Iraqi partner organization, the health center is providing around 35 patients access to free health care every day. Malteser International supports the health center during six months of the year, through providing medicines and medical equipment. Our teams are currently assessing the situation, considering increasing activities our activities in the region.
Last week, thousands of Christians fled the attacks from ISIS group in Mosul. Together with hundreds of thousands of other refugees, from other religious minorities or from Syria, they are on the run to Dohuk and Arbil, to seek protection in the Kurdish autonomous region.
Earlier this month, ISIS gave Christians in Mosul an ultimatum: “you either convert to Islam, pay a tax or flee the city.” As of late, 5,000 Christians lived in Mosul. A minority, present since the early years of Christianity, exposed to attacks for years. For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians.
Already since the beginning of July, ISIS is keeping control over Mosul. Since then, Christians and other minorities have been fleeing the city. In 2000, 1.5 million Christians were living in Iraq, in December 2003 only 300,000.
Malteser International has been supporting the Karamless health center since 2003.