GENEVA (Reuters) – More than half of the Christians living in Mosul have fled the northern Iraqi city in the past two weeks, some going to Syria, after receiving death threats, the United Nations refugee agency said on Friday.
“It is still not clear who is behind the intimidation that caused them to flee,” Ron Redmond, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told a news briefing.
More than 2,200 Christian families — about 13,000 people — have sought refuge north and east of Mosul, or in nearby Iraqi regions including Dahuk, Arbil and Kirkuk. About 400 crossed into Syria for refuge there, Redmond said.
“The displacement now appears to be slowing,” he said.
Syria is already hosting at least 1.2 million Iraqis who have fled war and upheaval in their home country, which U.S.-led forces invaded in 2003.
Redmond said many Christians who left Mosul did so suddenly and with little money after receiving phone calls, letters, and messages telling them to leave the city immediately or be killed.