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NEW WAVE OF CHRISTIANS FLEEING IRAQ

Growing insecurity in Iraq could lead to a fresh exodus of Christians from the country, warns Jamal Liddawi, a partner of Release International, which provides aid to persecuted Christians.  The Turkish invasion of Syria and growing protests in Baghdad are driving even more Christians out of the country.  Only around 300,000 Christians remain in Iraq from a peak of 1.8 million in the year 2000.  Many more are now anxious to leave, says Liddawi.  The recent Turkish invasion of Syria is driving a new wave of refugees into the region.  “The Kurdistan government are preparing for up to 200,000 refugees,” says Jamal.

Liddawi says the Kurdish people were shocked by the American decision to pull out of Syria, which precipitated the Turkish invasion.  “The Kurds feel betrayed by the US decision which has given the Turks the right to invade the Kurdish area in Syria.  Hundreds have been killed in continuing protests over government corruption, high unemployment and the influence of Iran in the country.  As a result, many of Iraq’s Christians have fled to Erbil, where the Kurds have given them safe haven.  Many Iraqis have been refugees several times over, driven out by the Gulf War, insurgency and IS fighters.  “As a result they lost hope and the desire to rebuild again” Liddawi said.

“We encourage those fleeing to go back to Iraq but their homes have been burned down, and there is no water, electricity, jobs or schools,” Liddawi said.  Islamic leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, recently blew himself up in a surprise attack by US special forces, but even though he is dead, his ideology lives on.  If Islamic State finished today, then another movement with a different name would replace it.  Liddawi has the blessing of the Kurdistan government for his work: “They see the impact of what we were doing and want us to do more. “They have given us an open door to distribute food and Christian books everywhere we go. Please pray for our continuing protection.”

Source: Premier News Service