Iraqi Christians in Peril
Abbot Gabriel works with Christian refugees in northern Iraq. Joseph Yunis is one of them. He was kidnapped by Islamist terrorists and only released after a ransom of 20,000 dollars was paid. He and his family have now fled from Mosul. ‘There has never been anything like this in Iraq. It only began after the US occupation in 2003,’ says his son, Eder. A century ago, every fourth Iraqi was Christian. Today, with terror and persecution rife, many Iraqi Christians are living in exile. A good number have sought refuge in the autonomous region of Kurdistan, in northern Iraq. But a host of fearless Christians hangs on.
Archbishop Sako refuses to budge from embattled Kirkuk. In his residence, guarded like a fortress, he brings political and religious leaders together and tries to mediate. ‘We should be brave and stay,’ he says, ‘even if it means laying down our lives as martyrs.’ Carmen Eckhardt filmed this report on the Nineveh Plain, in Kirkuk and in autonomous Kurdistan. She talked to Iraqi Christians torn between fear, desperate courage and the hope that one day they will be able to live in peace and security.