Religious minorities in Iraq have suffered greatly at the hands of ISIS, and as the year ends, communities hold out cautious hope for peace and rebuilding.
Hope and Rebuilding
Both Iraqi Christians and the Yazidis have faced persecution and suffering at the hands of ISIS. More about that here. Though COVID-19 continues to complicate the lives of everyone in the region, Samuel* of Redemptive Stories says that small improvements are emerging for Christians in some areas.
“There’s a lot of status quo, [and some] things are staying the same as they were. [In] other areas, you’re beginning to see some rebuilding, particularly areas that were hit hard by ISIS [and people] feel like now there’s enough peace for them to go back and begin to invest again,” Samuel says.
“We’ve seen churches being rebuilt in places that were hit hard by ISIS, particularly in the Nineveh Plain, which has been exciting. In one area that we visited, the church was completely damaged, and they’re hoping to have it ready for Easter.”
A Slow Process
For the Yazidi population, which was displaced by ISIS, the Sinjar Deal signed in October offered hope that they would be able to return home, especially with refugee camps now closing. However, Samuel explains relocation could still take a while.
“This peace deal didn’t really involve the Yazidi tribes themselves. They just made decisions for them. Whenever you do that for a people group, it rarely comes out to be positive for [that group],” Samuel says.
“We are hearing reports of them going back [and] organizations working with them to do resettlement projects, but I was just there weeks ago, and the camps are still there. There doesn’t seem to be any push, particularly from the Kurdish government, to close them. The pressure is coming primarily from the Iraqi federal government to close the camps on that side, but the Yazidis are primarily located in the Kurdish camps.”
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Rachel Pfeiffer
CALL TO ACTION
- Pray for religious freedom.
- Support organizations working in Iraq.