Four Christian aid workers from France and Iraq have gone missing in Baghdad, according to SOS Chretiens d’Orient (Christians of the Middle East). The nonprofit organization had sent its four employees to complete “administrative formalities,” according to the BBC.
So far, no ransom has been demanded, nor has any group taken responsibility. The disappearance occurred near the French embassy in Baghdad. Their names have not been revealed for security reasons, as reported by Faithwire.
The aid workers were “to renew their visas and register the association with Iraqi authorities,” according to France 24. They were also intending to inspect the charity’s activities in the city. The director of the nonprofit said the men are “experienced staff members who have been working with us for years” and had “perfect knowledge of conflict zones.”
The French Foreign Ministry has been notified of the situation and are actively working to gather more information.
SOS Chretiens d’Orient has worked in Iraq since 2014 to help persecuted Christians “remain [in the region] and rebuild.” The organization also works in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, visiting Christian families and teaching the French language.
Christians in Iraq have suffered tremendous persecution since ISIS overran the country. Before the US invasion of Iraq, an estimated 1.5 million Christians lived in the Middle Eastern country. That number has dwindled down to less than 200,000.
“Our tormentors confiscated our present while seeking to wipe out our history and destroy our future,” said The Archbishop of Irbil, Rev. Bashar Matti Warda at an event in London last year.
“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. Those of us who remain must be ready to face martyrdom.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Romanista
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine. She blogs at mikaelamathews.com.