A new wave of Christians are set to quit Iraq. Insecurity in Syria and Baghdad is causing the remaining Christians to "lose hope."
Growing insecurity in Iraq and on its border could lead to a fresh exodus of Christians from the country, warns Jamal Liddawi, who is supporting refugees in the country. The Turkish invasion of Syria and growing protests in Baghdad could drive even more Christians out of the country, believes Jamal. Only around 300,000 Christians remain in Iraq from a peak of 1.8 million in the year 2000. They've been driven out by conflict and insecurity. And many more are now anxious to leave, says Jamal:
Most of the Christians have lost hope. Many of them are applying to leave the country, and if they can, they will.
Jamal Liddawi is working with Release International to support refugees in Erbil, the principal city of Kurdistan, in northern Iraq. The recent Turkish invasion of neighbouring Syria is threatening to drive a new wave of refugees into the region. ‘The Kurdistan government are preparing for between 100,000 and 200,000 refugees,’ says Jamal. ‘They're preparing for a big number to come.’
Many Iraqis have been refugees several times over – driven out by the Gulf War, insurgency and IS fighters. They’ve had enough, believes Jamal.
For the last hundred years they have been under attack. They have lost hope. They have lost the desire to rebuild again.
He says there are now more than 6,000 Christian families across the border in Jordan, who have been trying for up to six years to get asylum in the West.
We encourage them to go back to Iraq but their homes have been burned down, there’s no water or electricity, there are no jobs and some of their villages still don't have schools.
And the recent death of Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, will do little to allay the Christian community’s growing fears, says Jamal. Baghdadi blew himself up, along with his children, in a surprise attack by US special forces. But even though the self-proclaimed Caliph has died, his ideology lives on, believes Jamal. ‘Islamic State has sleeper cells. If IS is finished today, then another movement with a different name will just come and replace it. That's why the Christians want to leave.’
Erbil refugee camp
We need to pray for the persecuted that they will have a fresh hope. Please LISTEN to this short interview with Jamal sharing the concerns of our Iraqi brothers and sisters, and how we need to pray.
The former Foreign Secetary, Jeremy Hunt, comissioned a special report to review the Foreign Office’s support for persecuted Christians. The report carried out by the Bishop of Truro, records widespread evidence of the kind of persecution and discrimination that Christians face worldwide, it reveals an up-to-date record of what’s happening around the world to the church, and said persecution of Christians is at near 'genocide' levels. It warned Christianity 'is at risk of disappearing' in some parts of the world. NOW WATCH an interview with Andrew Boyd, sharing what actions our government leaders have been advised to take to support those facing severe persecution, see the TRAILER below.
CATCH UP up with the Persecuted Church to see what's happening to our persecuted family around the world that you need to know about.
Article | Andrew Boyd, Release International
Photos | AP
05 Nov 2019