The president of the Rafeedain group in Iraqi
Parliament, The president of the Rafeedain group in Iraqi
Parliament, Yonadam Kanna, reported in a Parliament session that over
700 thousand Iraqi Christians have left the country due to the conflict.
Statements from Kanna come after British
members of Parliament sent a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron
urging the recognition of the Islamic State (IS) targeting of minorities
Kanna, who is also the Secretary General of
the Assyrian Democratic Movement, expressed concern about the situation
of Christians in a meeting of the Iraqi Parliament providing an overview
of the last three decades in Iraq.
Migration and departure from Iraq began en
mass during the Saddam Hussein regime. According to Kanna, the lack of
church bells ringing for New Years is symbolic of the situation for the
Christian minority. Traditionally, church bells are rung for New Years
but this year there was silence.
After the formation of the Islamic State (IS)
in Iraq, many people were forced from their homes, including
Christians. Many Iraqi Christians sought refuge in the Kurdistan Region
after displacement and others left the country to seek asylum. Following
the arrival of IS, Iraqi Christians have experienced harassment and
churches vandalized, creating a sense of fear among the minority group.
Christians in Iraq are considered one of the
oldest, continuous Christian communities in the world. The majority
are indigenous Eastern Aramaic-speaking ethnic Assyrians. In Iraq,
Christians numbered about 1.5 million in 2003, representing just over 6%
of the population of the country. The number continues to decrease from
the 12% estimated in 1947.