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More Than 500 Iraqi Christian Families Flee to Kurdish North
By Basel al-Khatib

The exodus of Iraqi Christians is continuing and 507 families have landed in the Kurdish north where security conditions are relatively stable.

Many more families have fled directly abroad, mainly to Syria, Jordan and Turkey.

Those fleeing to the Kurdish north are reported to be mostly low income Iraqi Christians whose meager resources will not make it easy for them to make ends meet in a foreign country.

But the Kurdish north, where Kurds have established a semi-independent state in the three provinces of Arbil, Sulaimaniya and Dahouk, is even more expensive than countries such as Syria.

Rents are extremely high and commodity prices dearer than in other parts of Iraq.

The large exodus began after scores of Iraqi Christians were killed in a church in Baghdad as they attended mass on Sunday.

Most of those heading for the Kurdish north land in Arabil, the Kurdish region's capital.

Despite calls for them to stay, many Iraqi Christian feel they have no future left in the country.

Churches in Baghdad are reported to be almost empty with senior Christian clergymen fearing that Iraq is on its way to lose its Christian minority.

Baghdad was the last remaining city with a sizeable Christian community, but thousands are said to have fled the latest upsurge in anti-Christian violence.

Mosul, the other city with a large Christian minority, is so volatile that one of the city's archbishops declared recently that the city had become dangerous for Christians to stay.

Mosul was the city of churches, but many of them have been abandoned and some turned into police stations or inhabited by squatters.

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