There are growing fears over the safety of Iraq’s minority groups after the militant capture of the country’s largest Christian town, Qaraqosh.
Brother Sebastien is a monk and member of the Al-Khalil community.
“The Christians are upset and saddened. They want to know what is happening to them because Qaraqosh was their cultural capital,” he said.
“The groups of the Islamic State were very close in the area of the Nineveh Plain. Finally Kurds were overwhelmed, so they were forced to withdraw. In the middle of the night they called the Bishop, who has some authority in the city, to tell him that they were leaving their posts. At that time, there was panic and the entire population had left,” added Brother Sebastien.
“This is a huge humanitarian disaster, gigantic. Some families spent eight hours at the checkpoint in the middle of the night with the feeling that the Islamic State was right behind them. And the checkpoint did not open its doors because the Kurdish forces controlled everyone for security reasons. Some have spent hours at the checkpoint with infants in their arms. It’s a tragedy.”