Christian refugees rescued from ISIS...in a private jet
Christian refugees fleeing ISIS were offered a dramatic escape route when a private jet rescued them from Iraq.
Business Jets usually offers tailor-made private flights for wealthy clients but undertook an unusual operation when it was instructed to fly 149 persecuted Christians to safety. The flight was funded by the Christian humanitarian aid charity Mercury One.
The Kiev-based aviation company flew the Christian families under threat from ISIS in Erbil to their new home in Kosice, Slovakia.
Chosen for their expertise in eastern Europe and the Middle East, it took four Business Jets staff two weeks to organise the operation. According to greatreporter.com they had to overcome a number of difficulties such as finding a local aircraft, permits for the flight and authorisation from the Iraqi authorities.
However these were the least of their worries as Russian rockets fired into Syria caused Iraqi airspace to be closed for 48 hours. The original plan was delayed but as soon as the air strikes paused, the refugees were flown out on an Airbus A-321.
"Our biggest satisfaction was to know we probably saved lives back there," said Julien, one of the members of staff who carried out the operation.
More than a million refugees and migrants arrived in Europe in 2015, many fleeing persecution in Syria, Iraq and Afghanisatan. Germany has accepted the largest number of asylum seekers but many are also stuck in transit countries such as Hungary, Italy and Greece.