"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.

 

Fleeing Iraq

The Masawabi family fled Iraq and came to Gaza after the father was shot dead on his doorstep.

 

Hanaa Masawabi, left, said in Iraq she live in
fear of her children being kidnapped
But though the trauma they lived through in Baghdad is still fresh in their minds, Hajja Haniya and her daughter Hanaa feel safe now.

 

Haniya said: "We fled after my husband was killed. My daughter and her husband were also threatened. There was no place for us anymore.

 

"We didn't flee from the people. Our neighbours cried for what happened to us."

 

Like most Palestinians from Iraq, all they had were refugee travel documents that expired. Now, they have no travel documents and no passports.

 

Hanaa went through a hellish journey to get to Gaza.

 

In Cairo, Egyptian authorities would not admit her into Egypt while Iraq would not receive her back because her stay permit had expired.

 

Caught between two countries she was deported back and forth for 19 days.

 

Countless interventions later, she and her family were finally allowed to make it to Gaza.

 

Hanaa said: "I'm finally settled. I used to live in fear that they would kill my husband or kidnap one of my children. Now I can sleep at night without fear."