Christina Abada, who is about to celebrate her sixth birthday, was welcomed home last week. Locals say she was released by the Iraqi Special Forces.
“It is a very happy moment; everybody is dancing and clapping and singing,” one Christian woman told a World Watch Monitor contact from the Ashti refugee camp, near Erbil, where her parents have lived for the past two years.
“She looks OK, quite healthy. I believe she must have been in the house of a family who took good care of her. She was even wearing gold earrings, so it must have been a wealthy family,” she added.
But there was one note of caution. “Although everybody was very happy, it was also sad to see that Christina herself is in shock about all the people around her,” the woman said. “Everybody is asking questions and speaking to her, but she does not say anything back, really. She also seems to be overwhelmed by the huge crowd of people welcoming her.”
Christina was abducted in August 2014, when IS overran Iraq’s second city, Mosul, and then swept into the Christian city of Qaraqosh in the Nineveh Plains, where the Abada family lived. Prior to IS’s occupation, it was the largest Christian city in Iraq.
Hundreds of thousands of Christians and other minorities had already fled the northern region. Christina’s family, however, stayed behind because the father, Khader, is blind. Other Christians too old or frail to flee also stayed, hoping for a measure of mercy from the invaders – a hope which was misplaced.
On 22 August, militants rounded up the Christians, saying they would receive medical check-ups. Several times, Ayda said, IS fighters pointed at her, with Christina in her lap.
Someone gave an order to take out any gold or valuables. The IS militants took it all. As the Christians were bundled into a bus a jihadist walked up to Ayda. He took her little girl from her arms and just walked away.
Ayda pleaded for her daughter, but the man waved Ayda away. At gunpoint, she was forced back onto the bus.
Source: World Watch Monitor