Four leaders of the French association SOS Chrétiens d’Orient are missing in Iraq, in Baghdad. “These are three French and one Iraqi, experienced staff present for many years in the association “ said SOS Orient Christians in an impromptu press conference on Friday January 24 as information began to circulate in the media. “The French Embassy has been fully mobilized since Wednesday morning” they explained.
The four men who are permanent members of the association have arrived “For a mundane date” in Baghdad to renew their visa.
The main Christian quarter is close to the epicenter of the violently repressed demonstrations that have torn the south of the country since October. Since the assassination of Iranian General Ghassem Soleimani, tension has escalated further in the Iraqi capital, where a large anti-American demonstration was held on Friday January 24.
The association, which has thirteen people in Iraq, Erbil and the Nineveh plain, and which presents itself as “of general and apolitical interest”, has been active since 2013 ” in the heart of secure disaster zones in the Middle East (Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon), but also in Egypt, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Armenia “. After a first humanitarian mission in Syria at Christmas 2013, she opened a permanent mission in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, to assist Christian families who fled the plain of Nineveh before the advance of Daesh.
For the past ten days, at the request of the consulate, all members of the association had relocated to Erbil. In addition, according to certain sources, the branch of SOS Orient Christians in Syria had just been closed and its members repatriated to Beirut, Lebanon.
→ EXPLANATION. The galaxy of associations that help Christians in the East
In recent months, the challenge for “the Iraq mission” has been to continue helping families return to their recently liberated villages.