A group of humanitarian aid workers from the French NGO SOS Chretiens d’Orient or “SOS Christians of the Middle East” have been kidnapped while working in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
Benjamin Blanchard, the group’s director told the press that their staff members — three french and one Iraqi national — went missing near the French embassy on Monday.
According to France 24, no ransom has been demanded no specific group has yet to take responsibility for their disappearance.
The charity has worked with persecuted Christians in Iraq since 2014 , when ISIS overran large swathes of the country and brutalized thousands upon thousands of Christian minorities and Yazidi’s.
Blanchard said the group were in the capital city “to renew their visas and register the association with Iraqi authorities,” adding that they were “experienced staff members who have been working with us for years” and had “perfect knowledge of conflict zones.”
The names of the missing have been withheld for security reasons.
The director added that his organization’s primary mission is to “help Christian communities remain (in the region) and rebuild.”
According to the BBC, an official from the French Foreign Ministry revealed to Reuters news agency that it had been made aware of the situation and was attempting to secure more information.
Prior to the US invasion of Iraq, there were an estimated 1.5 million Christians residing in Iraq. Since then, through the ravages of war and after a particularly brutal onslaught at the hands of ISIS militants, some experts believe the Christian population is close to being totally wiped out — totaling less than 200,000.
In an impassioned address last summer, The Archbishop of Irbil, Rev. Bashar Matti Warda, said ISIS has sought to destroy the country’s Christian population in its entirety.
“Our tormentors confiscated our present while seeking to wipe out our history and destroy our future,” he said at an event held in London, according to the BBC. “In Iraq there is no redress for those who have lost properties, homes and businesses. Tens of thousands of Christians have nothing to show for their life’s work, for generations of work, in places where their families have lived, maybe, for thousands of years.”
“Christianity in Iraq.. is perilously close to extinction,” the bishop exclaimed. “Those of us who remain must be ready to face martyrdom.”
We will keep you up to date with the latest developments in the kidnapping case as we receive more information.