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Iraqi refugees seeking French visas

media Minority groups in Iraq fleeing their homes. Reuters/Rodi Said

The French consulate in Arbil in Iraq received thousands of applications from Iraqi Christians to come to France as refugees. This is according to Archbishop Dominique Lebrun, the Bishop of Saint-Etienne that returned to France on Thursday after a five-day visit to the region.

The French government has said that it will open its borders to the Iraqi Christians who have fled their homes for fear of persecution by Islamic State (IS) militants that have gained control over large areas of northern Iraq.

The French Consulate in Arbil says they have already received 8,000 visa applications for France.

At a press conference on Thursday, Archbishop Dominique Lebrun said some of these Iraqi refugees can be accommodated within the Christian communities of France.

The French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Wednesday there is no limit set by the government for hosting these refugees. He did stress however, that France wants the Iraqi minorities like Christians and Yazidi’s to be able to continue living in Iraq if at all possible.

Archbishop Lebrun gave accounts of groups of more than one hundred people that were arrested, killed and thrown into the Tigris River by IS militants. 

The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq threatens the existence of thousands of Christians and members of the Kurdish-speaking minority group Yazidi.

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