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Iraq: 'Small window to act' to restore Christianity in Middle East
24 August 2017
Iraqi Christians have slowly started to return to their homes - even though in many cases those homes are largely destroyed. Indeed, in the next month, some reports indicate that up to 15,000 more are expected to return to the city of Qaraqosh.
This is a sign of hope. But a new report warns that there is only a 'small window' to act in, if Christianity is to be restored in these areas.
"If something bold is not done by the international community, I believe we will see the end of Christianity in the cradle of Christendom and a loss of religious and ethnic diversity throughout the region," says former US Representative Frank Wolf. Mr Wolf was commenting in a report written after returning from a fifth fact-finding trip to Iraq. In the report, he warns that a lack of action 'could result in further destabilisation across the Middle East' and that there is only a 'small window to act'.
As Islamic State (IS) has been pushed out of the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq, the Christians who fled have slowly started to return. Among them are Noeh and his family. Their home in Karamles, Iraq, was largely destroyed by IS, but they are determined to return and rebuild.
'My dream is to live in Karamles again,' says Noeh in a new video. 'I want to be a teacher here.'
But if Christians like Noeh and his family are to rebuild their homes and their lives, they need support from the wider community. Minority groups such as Christians and Yazidis need their voices to be heard. There is a danger that they will be caught up in another power struggle, this time between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government. Only recently the Christian mayor of Alqosh was dismissed, prompting fears of a Kurdish conspiracy to take over the territory.
Wolf says, "There is an ever-increasing concern that many of the ethnic and religious minority communities will be unable to return home due to the destruction and the growing political tensions, between the central government of Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] and other non-state actors."
Bring hope to the Middle East
Your support is keeping hope alive for thousands of families in Iraq and Syria, and we must continue to walk with them for as long as they need us. Here are four things you can do to support your persecuted brothers and sisters:
- Pray. Pray that the international community will act on behalf of Christians in the Middle East and that their rights would be protected. Pray for Christians returning to burnt and bombed-out towns, that they would find courage and perseverance as they seek to rebuild their lives.
- Give. Every £25 could go towards rebuilding a home or setting up a family in employment in Iraq.
- Speak out. Sign the One Million Voices of Hope petition, calling for equality, dignity and responsibility for Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria. Ask others to sign it too.
- Tell your church. Order a free Rebuild Hope pack, full of ideas and resources to help everyone in your church, of whatever age, to connect with their church family in the Middle East.
More News from Iraq:
- Christian children return home to Karamles
- Church leader optimistic despite upcoming referendum
- Christian woman released after three years in captivity
- Rebuilding Hope in Karamles
- Fear of 'Kurdish conspiracy' as Christian mayor dismissed
Find out more about persecution in Iraq.