Iraqi Christians have faced assassinations, ransom kidnappings, expulsions and illegal occupation of properties throughout the country. Since 2003, Islamic extremists have been blowing up churches, kidnapping clerics, looting shops and attacking Christian, Yazidi and Shabak homes
Many refugees are living “on the very edge” of survival, facing unemployment, a lack of educational facilities, camp overcrowding and shortages of electricity and water.
However, the refugees’ have “such a high morale” that it is rarely found anywhere else.
Again and again, we heard that their faith was all they had left but that it was vital as they sought to resurface from the brutalities that have overtaken them with ‘heads bloodied but unbowed.’
Some of the refugees wished to stay in northern Iraq, where the Kurdistan Regional Government retains control. The Kurdish leadership has consistently stated that its government was not “Islamic” and everyone could practice their own faith.
The churches seemed to have worked together very well. In Iraq, the Christian community breaks down into Chaldean, Syrian Catholic, and Syrian Orthodox and Assyrian churches.
The camps, run by the churches, are well organized and clean. “There are clear rules about what is socially unacceptable and the pastors of the different churches seem to have important roles in organizing and directing the life of the camps. Every camp has facilities for worship, education and medical care, showing clearly Christianity’s abiding concern for these areas of human life and of society.
The unity of the Iraqi Christian community in this time of severe persecution is exemplary.