Iraqi Christian community under threat of extinction

Monday, July 13, 2020

(Worthy News) -
An international humanitarian aid organization has said Christians living in the formerly ISIS-controlled Nineveh Plains of Iraq are now in danger of extinction, the Christian Post reports. Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) published a report this week in which it states that political and sectarian tensions are driving Christians out of the area.

Although it has given $53 million to help Iraqi Christians over the last five years, ACN says Christian emigration has been ongoing since the defeat of ISIS and the rise of militant factions in the region, the Christian Post reports.

ACN conducted several surveys to identify and report on challenges facing Christians trying to survive in the Nineveh Plains since ISIS was forced out in 2017. “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 ACN report states. 
The ACN report says the international community must take “urgent steps” to prevent the Christian community from falling to some 23,000 – a mere 20% of the population that lived in the region before the ISIS invasion of 2014.

Confirming the ACN view, Edward Clancy, the outreach director for Aid to the Church in Need USA, said the international community must “take immediate and decisive action” to prevent the complete extinction of the Christian community in the area. “It is more important than ever that world leaders work together to prevent Christian numbers falling further in Iraq,” Clancy 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. 

About 87% of Christians surveyed for the study said they feel “unsafe or absolutely unsafe.” Meanwhile, 67% believe that it's “likely or very likely” that the Islamic State or a similar group will return to the area. 
When the Islamic State had control of the area, hundreds of thousands of religious minorities were killed, enslaved and forced from their homes in the Nineveh Plains. But since the defeat of the Islamic State in the region, Christians have continued to flee or have not returned due to failing governmental infrastructure and the rise of two Iranian-backed militias operating on the Nineveh Plains.