Terrorized by increasing extremist attacks, more and more Iraqi Christians are fleeing in panic to neighboring Muslim-majority Turkey, among them solitary minors sent away by desperate parents.
In Istanbul, a tiny Chaldean Catholic community has embraced the refugees, serving as their first point of shelter before the United Nations or local civic groups offer a helping hand.
The number of arrivals, available statistics show, has sharply increased since October 31 when gunmen stormed a Baghdad church, killing 44 worshippers, two priests and seven security guards, in an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda's local affiliate.
"We saw many newcomers after the attack. We saw they had made no preparation and had no savings," said Gizem Demirci, an activist at the Association for Solidarity with Asylum-Seekers and Migrants.
"Moreover, we began to receive minors... whose families are still in Iraq but had just enough money to send away a son or a daughter," she added without offering any exact figures.
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