Number of Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian families in Basra, Iraq, decreased to 300 families, according to local Chaldean priest

BASRA, Iraq — In comments to Rudaw TV, priest of the Chaldean Church in Basra Father Aram Sabah Banu stated that, “More than 5,000 families from the [Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian] people were living in Basra some 60 years ago, but only 300 now remain.”

Father Banu warned of the alarming rates of emigration of Christians in southern Iraq amidst deteriorating economic and political conditions.

He criticized Baghdad’s lack of attention on the issue of Christian emigration, saying that Iraqi authorities only care about the Christians of Iraq insofar as it improves the country’s image before the international community.

“We refuse to be a front for any party,” said Father Banu. “We refuse to be used as propaganda for the international community to keep only a small group of us.”

He stressed the necessity of enacting a law that protects the Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian people and the property of the Churches and Christians.

“When there are encroachments or restrictions on Christians, with no one to defend them, they emigrate to places that appreciate and respect them and recognize their existence, language, and thought,” Father Banu added.

According to the statistics of the Chaldean Church in southern Iraq, there are fewer than 16 churches remaining in Basra, only three of which actively hold prayers due to the small number of Christians in the city.