Iraqi Christian Loses Mentally Disabled Son While Fleeing ISIS

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ERBIL, Iraq — One of the thousands of Christians fleeing Islamic militants in northern Iraq described on Thursday the "torture" of losing his son, who has mental-health problems, amid the chaotic escape. Ghanni Hannada is among 80,000 people who have fled the brutal Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) to the safe haven of Erbil in the past week — his son disappeared shortly after his family arrived. "This is a kind of torture I've never had to endure," he told NBC News. "I've asked for death but death hasn't come yet."

The church yards of the city's Christian area have been turned into small shanty towns, where families sit listlessly in the heat, which can reach 130 degrees. Laundry hangs on the walls and children wander around bewildered by the sudden upheaval. At St. Joseph's Church in Ankawa, the Christian section of the city, Hannada was laying out a tarpaulin and beginning to build a shelter from the scorching sun. He said he left his village as the militants arrived, and some fighters took his money and beat him with the barrel of a gun. "I left my home because I heard that the terrorists were coming," he said. "People said, 'They're going to kill you...they're going to slaughter you.'"


— Duncan Golestani and Ziad Jaber