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(Mideast Christian News) BAGHDAD – Patriarch Louis Sako of the Chaldean Church said there are only 57 churches left in Iraq compared to 300 churches in 2003, and those that remain continue to be targeted.

According to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, attacks by extremists on churches, especially that on Our Lady of Deliverance Church, contributed to forcing Christians to emigrate abroad.

Former Minister of Displacement and Migration, Pascal Warda, said a lot of young Christian people want to emigrate to find safety and jobs.

Christians live in the provinces of Baghdad, Nineveh and Kirkuk, as well as in Dohuk and Erbil in the autonomous Kurdistan region. There are limited numbers in the southern Iraqi province of Basra.

“The last ten years have been the worst for Iraqi Christians because they bore witness to the biggest exodus and migration in the history of Iraq,” said William Warda, the head of the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization.

“The number of Christians has fallen from about 1,400,000 in 2003 to nearly half a million now, which means that more than two-thirds have emigrated,” Warda explained.

Prominent Christian politician Youkhanna Kanna said, “The large blocs, unfortunately, have worked to confiscate political decisions in the country after the change, and the changes brought by the Americans did not depend on size, but capacity.”

“Christians in Iraq, a proportion of all the Christians in the Middle East, are the main builders of this region at all levels and in all fields. They have unquestionably played a significant role in modern Iraq, but what happened after the change is that the sectarian and ethnic system of quotas has allowed large-sized blocs to monopolize political decisions,” Kanna noted.

This story is provided to WND readers from Mideast Christian News.

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