In a dramatic appeal to the international community the Archbishops of Mosul, Iraq have asked for more outside help for minorities in Iraq. Their declaration calls for pressure to be put on the militants to end the destruction of Church buildings – including historic churches.
With violence still ongoing in parts of the country, they said: "We, the Archbishops of Mosul, coming from all the denominations gathered in Erbil, Ankawah, headed by His Beatitude Patriarch Raphael Louis I Sako, are shocked, in pain, and worried about what happened to the innocent Christians of Mosul because of their religion.
"It is a crime against humanity, as the UN Secretary General Mr Ban Ki-moon said, and 'a shameful stain that should not be tolerated' as the Secretary General of the Arab League Mr Nabil Alaraby called it.
"It's a crime in and of itself – a blatant persecution that we condemn and denounce."
Residents of Mosul, which is the capital of Nineveh, said the militants have also occupied two cathedrals belonging to Chaldean and Orthodox Christians. Crosses on the churches have been replaced by the black flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
The Archbishops demanded that the national government provides protection for Christians and other minorities, financial support for displaced families that lost everything and a list of all the damage done so that compensation can be given out.
Their declaration said: "We call on all people of conscience in Iraq and the world to put pressure on to the militants to stop the destruction of churches and monasteries and the burning of manuscripts and relics from our Christian heritage, which are also a priceless Iraqi and global heritage."
Sister Utoor Joseph (left) and Sister Miskintah, who disappeared on late Saturday, June 28 in Mosul.
Iraq’s Christian community has dwindled to a small fraction of what it had once been — once numbering more than a million nationwide, there are now fewer than 400,000 across the country.