Germany may accept 30,000 Christians who fled Iraq
Germany is mulling calls for it to take in up to 30,000 Christians who have fled intimidation and violence in Iraq, an Interior Ministry spokeswoman said Saturday, confirming an account in the news magazine Der Spiegel. ( dpa )
Iraq's Christians, who have lived in Mesopotamia since before the advent of Islam, have fled en masse to refugee camps in Jordan and Syria and say the reduction in fighting between Shiites and Sunnis has not benefited them, with killings of Christians continuing.
Interior Ministry experts in Berlin were studying suggestions from the Catholic and Lutheran churches that Germany declare a quota for resettlement by Iraqi Christian refugees, Der Spiegel said.
It quoted German Foreign Ministry data suggesting an original Iraqi Christian population of 800,000 had halved by 2005 to 400,000.
German government human rights commissioner Guenter Nooke said, "Intimidation, murder and abduction happen every day to Christians."
The magazine said the churches had called for a quota of 20,000 to 30,000.
Currently there are only small numbers of Iraqi Christians in Germany, mostly people who have been caught while illegally trying to migrate along land routes to Sweden, where they have been welcomed.
Many of the Christians speak the Aramaic language.
Iraq's two main native Christian denominations are the independent Church of the East under patriarch Dinkha IV, and the Chaldean Catholic Church under patriarch Emmanuel III Delly which is linked to Catholicism.