Four members of the French nongovernmental organization Christians of the Middle East, a charity that seeks to “help Christian communities remain (in the region) and rebuild,” have disappeared while working in Baghdad.
The four members of the charity went missing near the French embassy in the Iraqi capital on Jan. 20, Christians of the Middle East director Benjamin Blanchard said at a news conference in Paris on Friday, France 24 reports.
Three of the disappeared workers are French and one is Iraqi, he added. There have been no ransom demands, and the charity has asked that their identities remain concealed for security reasons.
The charity has been working with persecuted Christians in Iraq since 2014 when Islamic State jihadists seized the predominantly Christian province of Mosul, displacing tens of thousands. The group is also active in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Arbil, where many Christians sought refuge.
The missing workers were in Baghdad “to renew their visas and register the association with Iraqi authorities,” Blanchard said, and were due to inspect the group’s activities in the city, including the opening of a new school.
They left their hotel by car for a meeting “which posed no problem,” Blanchard said, describing the men as “experienced staff members who have been working with us for years” and who had “perfect knowledge of conflict zones.”
On Twitter, Christians of the Middle East shared photos of people from around the world who’ve gathered to pray for the missing workers’ safe recovery.
“Today, we will offer to God Our Father, a Special Mass, for the safety and the return of Our Beloved Four Brothers. We gather all of our hearts, minds, souls, and prayers for ONE INTENTION: THE SAFE RETURN TO OUR FOUR BELOVED BROTHERS,” reads one update.
The secular news outlet AFP, which is partly funded by the French government, claims that the Christian organization is “fiercely critical of Islam, portraying it as a threat to Christianity in the Middle East.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett