• France's news in English

France welcomes 40 Iraqi Christian refugees

Joshua Melvin · 22 Aug 2014, 09:22

Published: 22 Aug 2014 09:22 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius personally welcomed about 40 Iraqi Christians at a Paris airport, saying France had evacuated them because their lives are in danger.

"In the coming weeks, there will be hundreds more," Fabius said, according to AFP. "There is a considerable number of Christians, Yezidis, or other minorities who want to get out of Iraq and Kurdistan."

The groups are fleeing because they have been threatened and brutalized by armed militants from Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which wants to create an Islamic religious state in the Middle East.

Thousands of Christians and other minorities have fled the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and other areas after Islamic State of Iraq and Syria insurgents led a sweep across Iraq's north and west last month.

The militants had ordered Christian families to convert to Islam or leave the city, prompting the mass exodus.

Those who failed to comply were threatened with execution, and the property of those who left was forfeited to the Islamic State, a statement from the group seen by AFP said.

The refugees who arrived on Thursday were flown to France aboard a cargo plane that had just airlift 21 tonnes of humanitarian aide into the city of Erbil in the Kurdish region of Iraq, where some 600,000 internal refugees have gathered since the ISIS offensive.

Story continues below…

Speaking at the airport, Fabius said the refugees were given priority because they had some connection with France, including some who have family here they "haven't seen for 10-15 years."

Some 8,000 Iraqi Christians have applied for visas to France in Erbil since France said last month it would offer them asylum from ISIS militants.

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France to clear 'Jungle' migrant camp Monday
Migrants will be bussed from the camp to some 300 temporary accommodation centres around France. Photo: Denis Charlet/ AFP

The "Jungle" migrant camp on France's northern coast will be cleared of its residents on Monday before being demolished, authorities said Friday.

How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available