(fixes typo in headline)
* Christian families mostly fled Islamic State advance
* Family monitor camp, media, put up posters in search
* Relatives believe girl was taken to Mosul
By Isabel Coles
KHAZER, Iraq, Nov 30 In a camp near Mosul a
picture of a three-year-old girl, snatched from her mother's
breast by Islamic State militants when they overran her
Christian town two years ago, is taped to a wall along with a
desperate plea from her parents.
"Lost Girl", reads the poster in the displaced people's
camp, urging anyone with information about Christina Ezzo Abada
to call the number provided.
Almost nothing is known about what happened to Christina
since her abduction, but her family assumes she was taken to
Mosul and is praying she will be found among the tens of
thousands of people now fleeing the city.
In the cramped cabin where they live, her parents keep vigil
around the television, tuned to a channel tracking the progress
of Iraqi security forces as they fight to recapture the city
from Islamic State.
A picture of Christina hangs on the wall next to an image of
"We hope she's alive," said her mother, Aida Nuh, the dark
circles around her eyes giving her a haunted expression. "Maybe
someone will bring her and look for us and make contact. God
Christina's case is unusual. Although Islamic State is known
for its brutality and has kidnapped thousands of men, women and
children from Iraq's Yazidi minority, Christians faced a
different ultimatum under the militants' rule -- pay a special
tax for protection, convert to Islam, or die by the sword.
Most fled, but around 30 remained in the Christian town of
Qaraqosh, about 15 km (10 miles) southeast of Mosul, including
Nuh and her husband, along with Christina, their youngest
It is a decision they have lived to regret, but at the time
it was unclear how the militants would treat them, and Nuh said
she expected Iraqi security forces to regain control in a matter
Nevertheless, they sent their four elder children to safety
in the nearby Kurdish region as a precaution.
Twenty days went by in Qaraqosh with Christina and her
parents holed up at home, fearful of the black-clad militants,
who came to them demanding they convert to Islam, but also
provided food and water when asked.
On Aug. 22, 2014, the militants instructed all remaining
Christians to gather at a local hospital for medical tests, and
Nuh and her husband obeyed.
But there were no tests, and after a short interval the
militants ordered them onto a minibus waiting outside, which had
been smeared with mud to prevent passengers looking out or
anyone seeing in.
The militants, whom Nuh identified as local Arabs, searched
the group of around 30 Christians for valuables, which they
took, and separated four members of the group before corralling
the rest onto the bus.
Nuh sat with Christina on her lap and was breast-feeding her
when one of the militants came up and wrenched the girl away.
"Who will look after her? She needs me," pleaded Nuh,
trailing the man as he got off the bus with her daughter. He
said he was following orders from his emir, or commander, before
disappearing into the hospital, barring her way.
She continued to beg, and eventually the emir emerged from
the hospital carrying Christina, who was crying.
"I told him to give her back to me," recalled Nuh. "He
didn't speak. With his eyes he motioned at me to get back on the
When she resisted, the militants first threatened and then
forced her onto the bus, which drove to a wasteland on the edge
of Islamic State territory and dumped the entire group there.
That was the last time Nuh saw her daughter.
In the days after she was taken, Christina's parents called
local Arabs with links to Islamic State who told them she had
been placed with a family and was in safe hands.
But then contact was lost. Further efforts to track the girl
down have yielded nothing, although some speculate she ended up
in an Islamic State orphanage.
It is not clear why the militants kidnapped Christina, who
would now be five-years-old.
Earlier this week, the family returned to Qaraqosh for the
first time since leaving more than two years ago. On the way
there, the car stopped and Christina's father, who is blind, got
out and heard the voice of a young girl.
"I heard 'papa! papa!'," he said. "I called 'Christina!
Christina!', but she didn't reply".
(Editing by Dominic Evans and Angus MacSwan)