Thousands of Iraqi Christians who escaped persecution in Iraq by going to Syria are now returning to Iraq – to escape persecution.

Christian Solidarity International, USA President John Eibner, who recently returned from Iraq on an aid mission, couldn’t estimate the number of two-time refugees, but pointed to a report compiled by a special United Nations group that determined the Syrian civil war is now largely “sectarian.”

“The conflict [in Syria] has become overtly sectarian in nature,” Eibner said, quoting from the U. N. report. “Entire communities are at risk of being forced out of the country or of being killed inside the country.

“That means genocide,” Eibner explained, “according to the Genocide Convention of 1948.”

Eibner explained Iraqi Christians who fled Iraq to get away from Muslims trying to kill them have now found the same danger cropping up in Syria.

“The displaced Iraqis whom we met earlier this week were forced by Islamic terror to flee their country and found refuge in Syria, where they enjoyed security and a better standard of living than they had in Iraq,” Eibner said. “[But] now they are witnessing sectarian violence in Syria that is reminiscent of what they experienced in Iraq in the run up to the reign of terror in 2006-2008.”

The returning Iraqi Christians, however, will likely still face ongoing persecution in the predominately Sunni-led Iraq.

Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad reports that violence is still a way of life for Iraqi Christians, complete with gunshots and explosions fueled by an energized al-Qaida.

“Recently, there has been a rise of terror attacks in Iraq,” the church website said. “In a series of blasts, more than 100 lives were lost in just one day. Islamic State of Iraq with links to al-Qaida has reported that they are reorganized and stronger than ever.”

The church also says that the Christians returning home are reentering a dangerous world.

“Amidst all these explosions and uncertainty, the Iraqi Christians who had fled for their lives to Syria, once again are faced with forced migration. This time out of Syria, back to dangers of Iraq,” the church website said.

The church ended the report with a plea for members to donate to financially assist the returning Christians.

WND reported in December 2010 that Christians in Iraq were working to ensure the safety of their returning brethren by establishing a Christian province. Delegates from Iraq’s 16 predominantly Christian political parties and groups have hammered out an agreement to form the province on the Nineveh plains in Northern Iraq.

Delegates gathered in the Kurdish provincial capital city of Erbil and unanimously voted to petition the Iraqi government to approve the request for a self-governing Christian territory in the land Iraqi Christians say was the first predominantly Christian nation.

WND reported in November 2010 that Iraqi Christians were the targets of a major wave of anti-Christian violence at the hands of the U. S.-empowered Muslim majority.

The future of Christianity in Iraq is in grave doubt amid growing violence against members of the faith as U.S. influence in the Muslim nation declines.

Darrell Castle is a foreign policy adviser, a former Marine Corps officer in Vietnam and foreign policy adviser to the Constitution Party. He says there were 500,000 Christians in Iraq at the war’s beginning. But estimates now are that in some areas of the still-troubled nation, three-quarters of the Christians have fled. They’re simply gone.

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