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Persecuted Christians in Iraq: The crisis started one year ago...it's still far from over

2015-08-07

This summer marks one year, since Islamic extremists overran Christian towns in Iraq. Entire neighborhoods were evacuated as ISIS gave Christians and other religious minorities, two optionspay a tax for not being Muslim or convert to Islam. Failing to comply with one or the other, was a death sentence. 

MARTA PETROSILLO
Aid to the Church in Need (USA)
"Back in 2003, the Christian community in Iraq had about 1.2 million people. Since this crisis struck, the community has diminished to 300,000 in the region.” 
 
When extremists gained control of the city of Mosul, an estimated 120,000 Christians fled. Some have found refuge in camps, hoping they can one day go back home. 

The Catholic Church, through 'Aid to the Church in Need' has set up schools in the city of Erbil, where many refugees and entire families now live. Even children who lived in the city long before the crisis, were in need of a school. 

MARTA PETROSILLO
Aid to the Church in Need (USA)
 "Children who already lived in Erbil suddenly didn't have a school, because their schools were turned into improvised refugee camps to house all the people who were looking for a safe place to stay.” 

The Christian community still has a presence in Iraq, but it's decreasing fast. The fear is, that if nothing is done to help minorities, the Christian community will simply disappear. A situation that could perhaps then extend to other countries in the Middle East. 


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