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Christian Villages Emptied Once Again

By Keely Jahns

Published On December 6, 2021


Iraqi Christians are under siege once again. 

Christian villages across Kurdistan are bracing for bombardment. On November 6th, 2021, Turkish bombs fell over the town of Father Samir Youssef, an Iraqi priest who has seen wave after wave of violence hit his region. According to Samir, this is the first time in about a year that Christians in the surrounding towns have faced bombardment from Turkish forces. However, it isn’t the first time that Iraqi Christians had to flee their homes.

In 2014, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians had to flee their homes in the nearby Nineveh Plain in the middle of the night with only the clothes on their backs, fearing for the safety of their friends and loved ones as they fled the onslaught of ISIS. 

Today, many remain scattered across the Middle East, in places like the Kingdom of Jordan, where they receive hope, help, and healing through initiatives by the American Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (American FRRME) like the Olive Tree Center and its many programs. Programs include music and art therapy, tutoring, and even a new community gardening project in Fuheis. Many have also been able to return to Northern Iraq, where America FRRME has sponsored several apprenticeship programs and agricultural start-ups.

 A chicken farm and bakery in Qaraqosh are two examples of the programs that are helping to reestablish the lives of refugees as they return to Iraq. It is the aim of American FRRME’s efforts to help those returning to find stable work, learn new trades, and to provide hope for the future. However, this new threat of violence, as well as increasing cases of COVID-19, are making it difficult for Iraqi Christians and other minority groups to rebuild their hometowns. 

As of the 21st of November, many villages were emptied once again, just as they were seven years ago. 

According to Father Samir, today, “the fear is tangible.” Continuing on he noted the impact of Turkish attacks saying they “stopped tourism after a phase of recovery and made it difficult to cultivate fields or keep factories open, for fear of being hit.”

Through American FRRME initiatives in Iraq, there is hope that despite threats of violence, we can help to rebuild this region. The Christians in Iraq need help now more than ever. Please join us in prayer for the Iraqi people, and consider supporting American FRRME’s initiatives to help these beautiful people rebuild their lives.

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