A growing number of displaced Iraqi Christians are seeking refuge in the country’s north as insecurity drives families from their homes, according to the International Organization for Migration.
The recent report revealed an estimated 1,078 Christian families have fled to Kurdistan, the autonomous region governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government, within the past three months. Out of that total, 747 have occurred just since Dec. 15. Another 276 families were displaced to the nearby northwest province of Ninewah during this period, while many more who remain have also indicated plans to move.
Though the report assessed the situation of internally displaced Christians in the predominately Muslim country, it also highlighted that many have sought refuge in nearby countries, particularly in Turkey. more >>
A regional Iraqi government has gifted the land needed for the construction of a Catholic hospital and university in Erbil, northern Iraq.
The approval, granted Monday, was a critical phase for the building projects which have been labeled as “symbols of hope for the Christian presence” by Archbishop Bashar Warda.
“We do not want Christians to leave Iraq,” Warda told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need on Tuesday. “It is clear that our society here needs schools, universities and hospitals and this provides us with an opportunity to encourage the Christians to build a future for themselves here.” more >>
Bombs targeting Christian homes in Baghdad killed two people and wounded more than a dozen Thursday night.
It was another wave of attacks against the small Christian population which is still shaken from the massacre in October that left dozens of worshippers dead and forced thousands to flee the country.
Ten bombs went off at different Christian homes on Thursday while four were defused by security forces. more >>
Despite the distractions of the festive season and cutbacks on the horizon, the Barnabas Fund is asking Christians to remember the plight of their brothers and sisters in Iraq in prayer and practical ways.
In the last couple of months, Christians in Iraq have been attacked and killed in their churches and homes and al-Qaida-linked militants have effectively waged war on them. Christmas was, as expected, a muted celebration for many Christians in Iraq who decided to mark the birth of Jesus in the safety of their homes rather than risk their lives attending church services.
Barnabas Fund recently received a letter from an Iraqi archbishop warning that Christians were too afraid to leave their homes. The very real threat of being killed in broad daylight is making it difficult to do the very practical things like shopping and, more importantly, going to work. more >>
Some Iraqi Christians took the risk and traveled to churches to attend toned-down Christmas services despite the danger of being attacked by extremists.
Hundreds of people gathered Saturday at Our Lady of Salvation, the Baghdad church where 58 people were killed by Muslim extremists Oct. 31. Evidence of the attack was clearly visible with the church walls marred by bullet holes, broken windows covered by plastic sheeting, and pieces of dried flesh and blood stuck to the ceiling, reported The Associated Press.
A day earlier on Christmas Eve, less than 100 people gathered at the Sacred Church of Jesus located near Our Lady of Salvation. The church Christmas tree was decorated with paper stars that each bear a photo of a Christian killed during the October siege. more >>
Churches throughout Iraq are canceling Christmas services after receiving threats from an al-Qaida affiliate.
Fearing that Christians will be targeted, Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Monsignor Louis Sarko of Kirkuk told Agence France-Presse that they will not be celebrating the "feast of Christmas" and will be holding masses in the morning, rather than in the evening.
The Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group for Sunni Islamic insurgent groups that include al-Qaida, issued a warning late Tuesday, threatening more attacks against the Christian minority unless Egypt's Coptic Church releases two women converts to Islam. The group claims the women are being held against their will but the church has denied the allegations. more >>