"Iraq's minority communities are living in desperate conditions that are going ignored and unaddressed inside Iraq and in the international arena," the report said.

 

Suffering

 

Iraq's minority groups have, according to the report, suffered through the destruction and defacement of their religious buildings and the mass murder of their congregations.

 

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They have also faced "forced conversions to Islam under the threat of death, rape and forced marriage".

  

Minorities in the country, including civic leaders and children, have in addition been the target of abductions, ransoming and murder.

  

Mark Lattimer, the group's director, said: "Every day we hear news about the carnage in Iraq, yet the desperate situation of minority communities is barely reported.

 

"Subject to a barrage of attacks, kidnappings and threats from all sides, some communities which have lived in Iraq for two thousand years now face extinction."

  

Though Iraq is dominated by three major groups, Sunni and Shia Muslims, and Kurds, a tenth of the country's approximately 27 million people are religious or ethnic minorities.

 

"Immediate protection for these minorities and adequate consideration and consultation with them on their future role in the new Iraq is essential if their voices are not to be lost," the report said.

 

It also noted that a "huge exodus" of Iraq's minorities is taking place, citing figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which showed that minorities made up about 30 per cent of the 1.8 million Iraqis seeking refuge in various countries around the world.