‘They Want to Cleanse the Christians:’ 10,000 Flee Christian Communities in Northern Iraq as ISIS Takes Over Mosul, Says UNHCR
ICC Note: Recent conquests of ISIS in Iraq have revealed the severe persecution this group inflicts on Christians. Declaring a caliphate in the northern cities of Iraq, ISIS is looking to cleanse out the Christian population through severe methods. ISIS has placed a poll tax on Christian groups, and violently attacks them if it is not paid. Christians have begun fleeing in the thousands. Many have taken shelter in different school and community buildings in neighboring cities.
ICC has launched a campaign to provide aid to the Iraqi church to assist those in need who have fled from the attacks. Go here to find out more and donate: Iraqi Crisis Response
07/01/14 Iraq (Christian Post) – Some 10,000 people fled this week from predominantly Christian communities in Qaraqosh, Iraq, a neighboring city to Mosul where members of the militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have reportedly overrun and are now viciously attacking Christians who fail to pay a poll tax.
“Community leaders say the residents of Qaraqosh fled by bus, car and taxi into northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region on Wednesday night. Many are women and children. They are now staying with families, relatives and in schools and community centers. Most are in Erbil. They fled in a rush, with little time to bring belongings with them,” said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in a report Friday morning.
Qaraqosh, also known as Bakhdida, is a historic Assyrian town of 50,000 people, located approximately 30 kilometers south-east of Mosul, which is Iraq’s second largest city, according to the UNHCR.
Another report from The Wall Street Journal said most of Qaraqosh’s 50,000 residents fled as ISIS and Kurdish Peshmerga forces clashed this week.
“No one is left in the village,” a teacher from a village in Qaraqosh, who escaped to Erbil on Wednesday told The Wall Street Journal. “It was total chaos.”
In other parts of the city are the few who stayed behind simply because they had nowhere to run.
“Now all these terrorists are here from across the Middle East, and they want to cleanse the Christians,” a 35-year-old armed guard defending a church in the city, told the Journal. “The youth have left. There’s no one left to defend the church, and if I had the chance, I’d leave, too.”
Christians in Iraq are a minority, making up just 3 percent of the population where Shiites make up about 60 percent and Sunnis 32 percent, according to the CIA World Factbook.