Paris, January 24, 2020
On Monday, January 20, four of our employees went missing in Baghdad. In the late afternoon they travelled to an appointment by car. Throughout Tuesday, several attempts were made to contact them, but were unsuccessful. On Wednesday, it was clear that they had disappeared and therefore we immediately alerted the French authorities. Today, the French and Iraqi authorities are coordinating an investigation to find them.
These employees went to Baghdad to conduct a number of administrative tasks: to renew their visas and the registration of association with the Iraqi authorities and to monitor the association's operations in Iraq, including the opening of a new school.
For security reasons and in agreement with the authorities, we cannot disclose their identities. We can confirm that they are four experienced employees, in good health and with a thorough knowledge of the crisis areas.
To date, we have received no ransom demand, no information on the fate of our four friends and collaborators. We are of course in close contact with their families. The association and all our teams share their terrible concern.
We note that this mission was organized in full coordination with the French consular authorities in Iraq. Our employees stayed in a hotel located in an area that regularly receives international staff and followed a security protocol adapted to the region. These procedures include: plans that are regularly audited by independent experts, staff training, active security intelligence, and a support team in Paris that can be mobilized at any time. The update of our security procedures is ongoing and will be adapted to new threats.
SOS Eastern Christianswww.soschretiensdorient.fr
Founded in 2013, SOS Chrétiens d’Orient is present continuously in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. It also carries out specific missions in Pakistan, Ethiopia and Armenia. Its purpose is to provide material and moral support to the Christians of the East and vulnerable populations. It provides emergency assistance to the crisis areas. It also carries out projects that address economic development, education, cultural development and contributes to the construction or reconstruction of areas damaged by war. In six years, SOS Chrétiens d’Orient sent 2000 volunteers into five countries of mission, regularly assist 20,000 families and hundreds of thousands of people in a timely manner. The association distributed 60 tons of medical and logistical material - generators, medical kits, 9 million medications and 95 tons of toys, clothing, baskets and food hygiene. Reconstruction projects are conducted in 60 cities and villages in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan. Help us here to help there!