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Iraq violence drives one Christian family a month from Basra

Middle East and North Africa

Iraq violence drives one Christian family a month from Basra

Chaldean Archbishop Habib Nafali of Basra, Iraq, in Chester, England, talking to parishioners about the persecution of Christians in Iraq. (CNS photo/Simon Caldwell).

One Christian family a month is leaving the southern Iraqi city of Basra in the face of violence and increasing tension on the streets.

Only 10 per cent of the 3,000-strong Christian community remains in Basra, although its community has not suffered the same level of persecution experienced in the north of the country, where Christian communities in the Nineveh plains were targeted in a campaign of genocide by Islamic State.

“In general, at least one family a month leaves,” said Basra Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Habib Nafali.

He added that poor conditions in the city where more than 20 people have been killed since July in bloody street demonstrations – against growing unemployment, water shortages and corruption – were causing the families to flee.

However, in spite of the violence, the Christian community is embarking on celebrations for Advent:  “we will continue to celebrate … families will continue to meet in small groups in individual apartments … for prayers and meetings”.