Iraqi refugees shelter in churches

NEW YORK (CNN) – The ISIS advance in Iraq has driven many people from their homes and Kurdish officials say hundreds of thousands of Iraqi’s have fled to Erbil.

Hundreds of Iraqi Christians taking shelter in a place of worship, sleeping amid the pews of St. Joseph’s church.

These frightened people have come here, because there’s simply no place else to go.  They are part of a wave of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, who fled their homes to escape Islamist militants.

People are running for their lives and according to the patriarch of the Chaldean Christian community of Iraq, among the exodus are more than 100,000 Christians who tell us that they’ve been given a choice by the militants of the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria, either convert to their brand of violent harsh Islam, or face the sword.

The Kurdish leadership is struggling to deal with this wave of humanity.  The governor of Erbil, a Muslim, working with a Christian priest to provide aid to these homeless families.

The archbishop says Iraq’s ancient Christian community is basically being cleansed from its homeland.

This is another kind of massacre because they are losing any kind of collection from the land now. They have killed the history, they have killed the future also,” said Governor Nawzad Hadi

The exodus includes the other religious and ethnic minorities from the cultural mosaic of northern Iraq, including Yazidis, Shi’ites, Kurds, Turkomen, Shabbaq, but Kurdish officials fear ISIS militants may try to attack Erbil, a city that has become a fragile Kurdish safe haven.

The Kurdish leadership is grateful for U.S. Airstrikes now protecting Erbil.  But these desperate Iraqis just don’t know what to do.  All these people, suddenly homeless.  Looking to a higher power for some kind of help.

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