Flight of from Mosul, home of believers since dawn of Christianity, is lamented by churches body

(Photo: REUTERS / Social Media Website via Reuters)A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has made what would be his first public appearance at a mosque in the centre of Iraq's second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet on July 5, 2014, in this still image taken from video. There had previously been reports on social media that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi would make his first public appearance since his Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) changed its name to the Islamic State and declared him caliph. The Iraqi government denied that the video, which carried Friday's date, was credible. It was also not possible to immediately confirm the authenticity of the recording or the date when it was made.

GENEVA - The Word Council of Churches has reiterated a call to United Nations Agencies to ensure that all vulnerable communities in Iraq and the surrounding region receive appropriate humanitarian assistance.

"We are deeply shocked and distressed by the recent events in Mosul, where hundreds of thousands of people have fled the second largest city in Iraq," the WCC said in a statement released Tuesday.

It followed the meeting of its main governing body, its Central Committee.

The people were fleeing "because of the violence and raids by the "Islamic State," a terrorist group formerly known as the "Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham" (ISIS).

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"This radical group is imposing its terror on the whole population, specifically targeting minority groups, including Christians, who have remained steadfast in the city after several waves of displacement."

Mosul, in northern Iraq, is  some 400 kilometers (250 miles) northwest of the capital Baghdad.

10,000 CHRISTIANS DISPLACED

Out of the 500,000 people who have left Mosul and the area, there are around 10,000 Christians who have been displaced and fled to the neighbouring Kurdish areas.

The WCC noted there are also "thousands of people from other religious and ethnic minorities and many who oppose the terror regime imposed by ISIS."

The statement cited credible media reports and other accounts received from the bishops in Mosul and the neighboring villages in the Nineveh plain confirm that Mosul has been nearly emptied of its Christian population.

"Christians in this city have maintained a continuous presence since the dawn of Christianity," the statement said..

"We also mourn with those who have lost their innocent loved ones during the military offensive, and pray for a speedy recovery for the injured."

The WCC said in the statement it:

• Encourages all the churches in Iraq and in the region who witness to the love of Christ for all their diaconal work and humanitarian assistance.

• Reiterates its call to the international community and to the specialised United Nations Agencies to ensure that all vulnerable communities in Iraq and surrounding region, and those who have found refuge in neighbouring countries receive appropriate humanitarian assistance.

• Encourages church-related agencies to redouble their efforts now, including aid for the internally displaced peoples in both Iraq and Syria, and the refugees in neighbouring countries.

• Affirms the role of the churches in Iraq and the region committed to engage in constructive dialogue with other religious and ethnic communities so that the pluralistic heritage of their societies is protected and secured. .

• Urges the Iraqi authorities and encourages non-military international support for the initiation of an inclusive political process to strengthen fundamental human rights. This is in particular with regards to religious freedom, to urgently establish the rule of law and to ensure equal rights for all citizens.

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