The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is helping hundreds of Iraqi Christians who fled the northern city of Mosul to neighbouring Syria, which is already hosting at least 1.2 million refugees from the strife-torn nation.
“Many Christians from Mosul have been systematically targeted recently and are no longer safe there. We are ready to provide support for those Iraqis that seek refuge in neighbouring countries,” said Laurens Jolles, UNHCR’s representative in Syria.
“We are grateful that Syria continues to welcome refugees,” he added.
UNHCR says thousands of Christians have left Mosul in recent weeks, with many staying in villages elsewhere in Ninawa province. About 400 of them have crossed into Syria.
The agency has begun registration of Christian refugees from Mosul who have turned up at its offices in Damascus and Aleppo. More than 20 families have sought UNHCR’s help in Aleppo in recent days.
There is also a UNHCR team at the Qamishli area close to Iraq, where about 20 families have arrived in the past few days.
Many of the refugees left their homes with little money and need help extending their visas to Syria. Upon registration with UNHCR, families with financial difficulties are assessed for emergency grants and food aid.
All the refugees said they hoped to be able to return to their homes soon, UNHCR noted.