Iraqi Christian girl freed from Islamic State says 'mum, dad' again

Iraqi Christian girl freed from Islamic State says 'mum, dad' again
Iraqi Christina Ezzo Abada, a former hostage of Islamic State militants for three years, smiles during an interview with Reuters inside a cramped home at a refugee camp in Erbil, Iraq June 10, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
4 years ago

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Near ERBIL - A six-year old Iraqi Christian girl, kidnapped by Islamic State when she was three, was reunited with her family on Friday (June 9), and getting used to saying "mum" and "dad" once more.

"The best day of my life is the day when Christina came back," said her mother, Aida Nuh, on Saturday (June 10).

Dark circles around her eyes are evidence of sleepless nights since August 2014, when the militants snatched Christina from her, a few weeks after overrunning the town of Qaraqosh, 15 km (10 miles) southeast of Mosul.

"She stayed three years with the Daesh, the terrorists," Aida said. "We will do our best to make her know who her mother is and who her father is. We will continue to help her get familiar with us and I am sure that she will realize that we are her real family."

Christina's two sisters and two brothers had escaped to Kurdish territory before the arrival of the militants.

"I'm with mum and dad," said Christina, playing with a plastic toy, in a mobile home for displaced people in Ainkawa, a Christian suburb of the Kurdish capital Erbil, east of Mosul.

Islamic State has kidnapped thousands of men, women and children from Iraq's minorities, mainly Ezidis.

Christians who did not or could not escape in time were faced with an ultimatum - pay a tax for protection, convert to Islam, or die by the sword. Some, like Christina, were kidnapped.

Christian families who remained in Qaraqosh were forcibly displaced on Aug. 22, 2014. The militants took away Christina from the minibus which had driven them to the edge of Islamic State territory, after threatening Aida, who desperately resisted.

The family's efforts to track her though Arab friends were rewarded on Friday (June 8), when they got a call telling them Christina had been found in Hayy al-Tanak, a poor neighborhood of Mosul.

Eight months into the U.S.-backed offensive to take back Mosul, all of the city has fallen to Iraqi government forces except a pocket by the western bank of the Tigris river.

The parents said they now hoped to emigrate, to put their ordeal behind them.

In the meantime, they face a long wait in the cramped cabin, because their home in Qaraqosh was almost completely destroyed in the fighting to dislodge the militants.