BEIRUT: There are more than 8,000 Iraqi refugees in Lebanon, according to Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas.
“The number of Iraqi refugees who recently entered Lebanon and are registered with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is 1,000, but I believe it is much higher, not to mention some 7,000 previous arrivals,” Derbas said in remarks published Wednesday by local newspaper Al-Joumhouria.
He said he would discuss ways to help the Iraqi refugees in a meeting with the Chaldean bishop.
Under the threat of death or conversion by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), thousands of Christians have fled Iraq over the last two months, with many Western states offering asylum.
Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai has urged the international community to help Iraq’s minorities, asking the country's Christians to stick to their roots and not leave their homeland.
The sweeping gains by the jihadists, who took Mosul in June and have since advanced to threaten the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil, have added pressure to a community that had already seen an exodus in the more than a decade of fighting after the fall of Saddam Hussein.