IRAQ: UPDATE ON FIVE-YEAR-OLD CHRISTINE, ABDUCTED BY ISLAMIC STATE
Christine was just 3 years old when she was taken by the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) from the arms of her mother, Ayda. Christine has now been missing for over two years.
Ayda and her family were forced to flee their home in Qaraqosh, and they now live in a porta-cabin in a camp for displaced people in Erbil, supported by our local partners with food and hygiene kits. “But,” as Ayda told our Iraqi contact who visited her recently, “Christine is still there.” ‘There’ means ‘in IS territory’; so close you could drive there in a matter of hours, but so dangerous that Christine may as well be on the other side of the world.
The little girl is never far from Ayda’s mind. There is a low resolution photo of Christine on the cabin wall, taken since she was captured. Ayda’s son stumbled upon the picture on Facebook. “We heard that Christine is living with one of the Christian ladies who was kidnapped by IS. The lady was forced into marriage with an IS-fighter and somehow managed to take our Christine under her care.”
In some ways, this is good news – they know that Christine is alive, and they can hope that she is well cared for. But Ayda and Christine’s father, Khader, worry about the hardships their daughter is going through, and wonder if they will ever see her again.
“She is getting older,” Ayda says as she looks at her daughter’s picture. It was Christine’s fifth birthday on 18 July. “But I don’t know how she celebrated it. Shortly after we found this photo on Facebook, the internet was cut from Mosul. Now we don’t have any news.”
“Sometimes, I fear that my Christine grows older without me, that I will never see her again.” She looks down to fight a tear.
But Ayda doesn’t want to give up hope. As long as Christine is still close by, Ayda and the rest of the family will not leave Iraq either. Ayda will not rest until her little girl is safely back in her arms where she belongs. “Without her, it’s like part of our heart is missing. We are not complete without her.”
The family of Christine urges us to pray that Christine will return.
Christine was not the only family member of Ayda and Khader’s who was left behind. “My father stayed in Qaraqosh,” Ayda shares. “He was sick, his health was not good at all. So, when everyone fled, he stayed alone in the house. Later I heard that he died three days after IS entered. He was old and sick and had no water or food. IS buried him.”
Khader has a sister who is still in Qaraqosh. “She was 80 years old and didn’t want to leave,” he says. “She refused to flee with us, she wanted to stay in her house in Qaraqosh.” Now he is not sure if she is still alive. “On Mosul TV they reported that an old Christian lady from Qaraqosh had died. It might have been my sister, but I’m not sure. I have no way to contact her.”
- For protection for Christine, and for her safe return to her family
- For hope and comfort for Khader, Ayda and the rest of their family
- For freedom for the thousands of others who are being held captive by IS
- That God will change the hearts of members of IS and turn them to himself.
Source: Open Doors