ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) – Khalid Jamal Albert, General Director of Christian Affairs in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)'s Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, told K24 on Tuesday that almost 320,000 Christians live in the Kurdistan Region.
On Tuesday, Albert stated that it is hard to provide clear accurate statistics about the number of Christians living in the Kurdistan Region because the number fluctuates nearly every day. He stated that many Christians move from other parts of Iraq to the Kurdistan Region, while others emigrate from the Kurdistan Region to western countries, and others still even return from abroad to the Kurdistan Region.
"We do not currently have clear statistics on the exact number of Christians living in the Kurdistan Region because their numbers change so rapidly—almost every day," he said, "approximately, there are 300,000–320,000 Christians living in the Kurdistan Region, including internally displaced peoples (IDPs) who fled from other parts of Iraq to the Kurdistan Region."
Albert mentioned that large numbers of Christians have been leaving the Kurdistan Region and Iraq in general. "We cannot prevent them from flying abroad because it is their personal life, and the current situation in the country has made their living conditions worse," especially due to the threat of the Islamic State (IS) and the financial crisis that the country has faced."
Regarding the countries that the Christians attempt to migrate to, Alber noted that most try to fly to the Western countries via the United Nations offices in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.
"The United States, Australia, and Canada are among those countries that most Christians aim to emigrate to, but since they cannot always reach those countries, most of them have gathered in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. They settled there until they get an opportunity to move to the countries they intend to," Albert said.
He also mentioned that some of them "illegally cross the border to the neighboring countries to move to Europe later."
Christians are one of the main ethnic and religious components of the Kurdistan Region and have been living harmoniously in Iraq for centuries. However, after the emergence of IS in Iraq in June 2014, large proportions of Christians started to emigrate abroad since many were killed and forced to flee their homes since their towns and villages and areas of worship were threatened and destroyed by ISIS.their homes since their towns and villages and areas of worship were threatened and destroyed by IS.