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‘Life after ISIS’: Christians are leaving Iraq due to ongoing security concerns

The report, “Life after ISIS: New challenges to Christianity in Iraq,” documents how Iraqi Christians’ worries over Iran-backed militias operating in their region drive emigration and economic insecurity. 


More Christian families left the Nineveh Plains than returned to their hometowns last year amid ongoing security concerns in northern Iraq, according to a recently published report by Aid to the Church in Need

“Christians who have returned to their homes still feel unsafe, and substantially more insecure than other groups in the region mostly because of the violent activity of local militias,” Fr. Andrzej Halemba, the leader of ACN’s Nineveh Reconstruction Committee, wrote in the report’s foreword.

“Although economic concerns, especially employment, are paramount in some areas, it is impossible to decouple these from security considerations. These key factors need to be addressed to tackle the physical and economic insecurity that forces populations to move.

If the tendency to emigrate is not stemmed, it will place, in turn, even greater pressure on Christians remaining in Iraq by reducing their critical mass and thus creating a less hospitable environment,” he said.

The ACN report found that 57% of Iraqi Christians surveyed said that they had considered emigration. Among them, 55% responded that they expect to leave Iraq by 2024.

The number of Christians living in areas formerly occupied by the Islamic State has already declined from 102,000 to 36,000 people since 2014. The report stated that some displaced Christians who returned to the Nineveh Plains as their homes were rebuilt are now choosing to leave. 

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