Christians Among 500,000 in Flight From Mosul: 'Not One' left after Islamist forces seize city

Church leaders in northern Iraq struggled to find shelter for Christians who were among hundreds of thousands who fled Mosul, the country's second-largest city, after Islamist forces took over much of the town, a Chaldean Catholic archbishop said.

Christians began fleeing early on June 9, Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona of Mosul told Catholic News Service in an email.

Advertisement

"The soldiers and all policemen left the city," seemingly abandoning the people, Archbishop Nona wrote. He called the situation a tragedy.

"And we started organizing, working all through the night, to find a place for them (the people who had fled Mosul) in nearby villages," the archbishop said.

News reports said several hundred heavily armed members of the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant occupied government facilities, broadcast stations and banks as they worked their way through the city.

The BBC reported that up to 500,000 people left Mosul as the ISIL forces occupied the city. Many headed to three towns in Kurdistan in northern Iraq, where temporary camps were established.

The exodus from the city of 1.8 million, 220 miles north of Baghdad, continued throughout the night and day June 10, with many of the people leaving on foot with no belongings, Archbishop Nona said.

"I met with a family who have two young children, 2 and 3 years old, who walked for five hours through the night, and they were very scared. We placed them in one house with another family in Telkef (in my diocese, two miles from Mosul)," the archbishop said.

"All our churches in Mosul are closed, and there is not one Christian in the city," Archbishop Nona added.

The archbishop also pleaded for international assistance to step in to provide aid to the people fleeing Mosul.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called on parliament to declare a state of emergency June 10 after the government lost control of Mosul and parts of Nineveh province.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman condemned the seizure of Mosul, calling the situation "extremely dangerous" and urging the country's fractious political groups to fight Iraq's enemies together, Reuters reported.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant began as an Iraq-based affiliate of al-Qaida. It is fighting to establish an Islamic state in parts of Iraq and Syria. Al-Qaida's central leadership has denounced the organization for apostasy and excessive violence. It is estimated to have 3,000-5,000 fighters.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Edward Ray
4 years 4 months ago
It is unfortunate our Nobel Peace-Prize winning commander-in-chief (aka Barack Obama) could not effectively negotiate a status of forces agreement...such an agreement would have prevented this mess.

Advertisement

The latest from america

For years, the Polish church has been torn between supporting the government’s anti-migrant stance and adopting Pope Francis’ commitment to foreigners.
Melissa VidaOctober 15, 2018
The cast of “Girl From the North Country” (photo: Joan Marcus)
How did an old war horse manage to outrun a rolling stone?
Rob Weinert-KendtOctober 15, 2018
El Salvador celebrates the canonization of their patron saint—but should the ceremony have taken place in San Salvador?
James T. KeaneOctober 15, 2018
The Gospel of Luke is often called The Gospel of Prayer, because of all the many times it portrays Jesus at prayer. Take that as your text, and inspiration, for this week. 
James Martin, S.J.October 15, 2018