Growing Insecurity in Iraq Could Lead to Fresh Exodus of Christians

A cross is seen on the damaged altar of the Grand Immaculate Church after it was recaptured from Islamic State in Qaraqosh, near Mosul. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Growing insecurity in Iraq and on its border could lead to a fresh exodus of Christians from the country, warns a partner of Release International (www.releaseinternational.org), which 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 Liddawi, a partner of Release International, which provides aid to persecuted Christians.

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.”

The Release partner says the Kurdish people in northern Iraq were shocked by the American decision to pull their troops out of Syria, which precipitated the Turkish invasion.

“The Kurds feel betrayed by the US decision to take their troops out of the north. They believe it has given the Turks the right to invade the Kurdish area in Syria. Many people have been killed. This has impacted Kurdistan because even more refugees are now coming into the region. Everybody’s confused and shocked by the decision.”

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SOURCE: Assist News