ASIA/IRAQ - Monday, 27 January 2020
Baghdad (Agenzia Fides) - Four men working in Iraq for SOS Chretiens d'Orient (SOS Eastern Christians), a French Christian charity, have been missing since Monday 20 January in Baghdad. The missing workers were in Baghdad to renew their visas and register the association with Iraqi authorities. For security reasons and to protect the men’s safety, their names have not been made public. In a press release issued on social networks on Friday 24 January, SOS Chrétiens d’Orient reported that it had lost contact with its four employees since the previous Tuesday, and that it had reported the disappearance of the four to French and Iraqi authorities.
The French NGO stresses that the four missing employees are experienced people, all in good health and with a good knowledge of the crisis areas in which they operate, and who have always carried out their initiatives in full compliance with safety standards continuously updated to respond to new emerging pitfalls in that region.
SOS Chrétiens d’Orient has its headquarters in Paris, and presents itself as an organization dedicated to supporting the Christian communities of the East, also through the financing of social and educational projects. Currently, the organization is present with "permanent missions" operating in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt. The founders of the association, formed in 2013, are Charles de Meyer (who was in the past assistant to French right-wing MP Jacques Bompard) and Benjamin Blanchard, former collaborator of the Front National Marie-Christine Arnautu MEP. The director of the Organization's initiatives, François-Xavier Gicquel, was also an old Front National militant. According to data reported in 2019 by Le Figaro étudiant, since the beginning of its activities the Association has sent about 1500 employees and volunteers to carry out their projects in the Middle East. In February 2017, the organization was recognized as a "national defense partner" by the French Ministry of Defense. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 27/1/2020)