News > Iraqi Armenians > Wishes for a better 2010 for Iraqi Armenians
A top UN envoy to Iraq, Ad Melkert issued Christmas and the New Year wishes to all Iraqi and in particularly Iraqi Christians.
In his statement released on the Christmas Eve, Melkert, who is also the head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), highly valued the role of the Christians in Iraq: "Iraqi religious and ethnic minorities are not only an integral part of Iraqi society, but they are a critical component in shaping the future of the country,” he commented.
He also refered to the historical contribution of the Iraqi Christians in maintaining the country's unique social fabric and preserving national unity.
The wishes came after several weeks of increased deadly attacks against the Christians in the city of Mosul. Last year more than 10 thousand Christians left the city and moved to safer areas mainly in Iraqi Kurdistan.
According to reproters Lisa Karpova And Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey (pravda.ru, 24 December 2009) the Christian population before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in 2003, was estimated to have been about one million, but since then more than half of the community has been forced to abandon their homeland and seek refuge in Syria, Jordan, Iran, Lebanon and other countries.
Karpova and Bancroft-Hinchey made a special reference to the situation of the Armenians in Iraq. Here are their findings:
"The US-led invasion of March 2003 sent thousands of Armenian Christians fleeing to Armenia, Syria and Lebanon. Others have resettled in the United States, Sweden and Holland. Much different than in Saddam's Iraq, when special classes were allowed in Armenian language and religious studies.
At least 45 Armenians have been killed in the post-Saddam years of rampant insurgency, sectarian warfare and often unbridled crime, while another 32 people have been kidnapped for ransom, two of whom are still missing. On December 7, 2004, assailants firebombed a new church in the northern city of Mosul, an Al-Qaeda bastion, just days before it was to be inaugurated.
Like all Iraqis, Armenian Christians have also been caught up in car bombings, killed during robberies or in cases of mistaken shootings by the US military and private security firm Blackwater."
The current situation is in sharp contrast with the welcoming spirit of the Iraqi population about one hundred years ago, when Armenian refugees started poured into the present-day Iraq. The two reporters write: "Speaking of Iraq's hospitality and kindness after the Armenian Genocide, an Armenian family declared, We are indebted to the Arabs. They did everything to welcome us. They allowed us to live and to rise in society, after Armenian survivors, many of them orphans, had arrived bare-footed from death marches across the desert."
We wish that 2010 brings better days to the Armenians in Iraq, reinstating Arab and hospitality and kindness as it has been for centuries.
Photo: Armenians in Baghdad commemorate Genocide day on 24 April.