Christians Still ‘Endangered With Extinction’ in Post-ISIS Iraq

Members of Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service sift through the ruins of the Grand al-Nuri Mosque at the Old City in Mosul, Iraq June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Christians in Iraqi territory once held by the Islamic State still face the possibility of extinction as the Christian population there continues to dwindle following the military defeat of the jihadi death cult and the rise of Iran-backed militias in the area.

Aid to the Church in Need, an international humanitarian aid organization that has spent over $53 million to help Christians in Iraq in the last five years, published a lengthy report this week based on a series of surveys of Christians still living in the Nineveh Plains of Iraq.

Through the surveys, the organization identified the major challenges facing Iraqi Christians who returned to their hometowns in northern Iraq following the Islamic State’s invasion of the Nineveh Plains and the city of Mosul in 2014.

Sectarian and political tensions continue to be major factors driving the emigration of Christians from the region.

The report estimates that unless “urgent steps” are taken by the international community, the Christian community in the region could drop to just 23,000, which would suggest that about 20% of the Christian population that lived in the region before the Islamic State invaded in 2014 would remain.

According to Aid to Church in Need, the Christian community in the region would fall to the definition of “endangered with extinction.”

“The findings … make clear that restoring the stability of the Christian community in this post-conflict region is only possible with a concerted effort focusing on security, education, long-term economic opportunities, and reconstruction,” the report states.

Edward Clancy, the director of outreach for Aid to the Church in Need USA, said the international community must “take immediate and decisive action” to solve the issues “threatening the continuing Christian presence in Iraq.”

“It is more important than ever that world leaders work together to prevent Christian numbers falling further in Iraq,” he said.

Although the Islamic State was pushed from its territory three years ago, the survey shows that concerns about the terrorist group or like-minded groups are still prevalent for Iraqi Christians.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith