The town of Qaraqosh- referred to as Iraq’s Christian capital – is located 30km (19 miles) south-east of the city of Mosul, which was captured by IS in June
Up to a quarter of Iraq’s Christians are reported to be fleeing after Islamic militants seized the minority group’s biggest town.
The Islamic State (IS) group captured Qaraqosh overnight after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces.
IS has been gaining ground in northern Iraq since June, and also controls some of Syria.
The US has warned that the situation for Iraq’s minority groups threatens to become a “humanitarian catastrophe”.
“We are gravely concerned for their health and safety,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.
The United Nations Security Council is due to meet in emergency session later on Thursday to discuss the situation.
Kurdish forces, known as the Peshmerga, have been fighting the IS militants’ advance for weeks.
The Peshmerga’s commander in Qaraqosh reportedly told the town’s archbishop late on Wednesday that the forces were abandoning their posts.
Several senior clergymen in Nineveh confirmed the town had fallen.
“It’s a catastrophe, a tragic situation: tens of thousands of terrified people are being displaced as we speak,” said Joseph Thomas, the Chaldean archbishop of the northern city of Kirkuk.
Eyewitnesses in Qaraqosh said IS militants were taking down crosses in churches and burning religious manuscripts.
A newer influx of Christians pours onto Arbil.
Over a 100,000 Christians have sought a safe haven in Iraqi-Kurdistan’s capital and have taken churches, schools, shells of buildings and even sidewalks as bunk. Not too long ago,
ISIL militants overran Iraq’s largest Christian town of Qaraqosh after pushing back Kurdish troops forcing Iraqi Christians to flee out of Nineveh province.The Takfiri militants took over neighboring Christian towns as well – including Tal Kayf, Karamlesh, and Bartella.Press TV camera visited Ainkawa – a suburb of Arbil hosting the new-comers.
A Déjà-vu of women and children taking shade from the blistering heat, mattresses lying on the ground everywhere, and hospital beds with patients only without an actual hospital.
Back in June, Iraq had witnessed a similar only larger wave of Christian exodus.After ISIL militants took control of Mosul; they gave Christian residents an ultimatum to either denounce Christianity, pay tax or face death by sword.
The pockets of many here are empty. United Nations and local NGOs are struggling to provide necessary aid especially as the numbers of refugees continue to rise. The U-N has declared an all-out humanitarian campaign to ramp up support for hundreds of thousands of refugees here in Iraqi Kurdistan. UNHCR stated that aid in the form of tents, plastic sheets, and Kitchen sets are on their way from Jordan, Turkey and the UAE.
However, people we spoke to here told Press TV that it is not aid they really need. Most of the people we spoke to here today reiterated the same demand we heard from other refugees: Going home and starting off new.
They say what they need is not a helping hand but rather more pressure on those who are helping and funding the militants.