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ICC Note: Iraq has been home to consistent violence for 13 years now. Eight out of ten Christians have left the nation since 2003. Those who remain are struggling to survive as churches have emptied and resources dwindle. Terrorist attacks have exhausted the Iraqi population including a suicide bomb that killed 324 people during the holy month of ramadan.

09/08/2016 Iraq (Sight Magazine): The 3rd July destruction claimed by the ‘Islamic State’ did not stop there. Four days later, a suicide bomber killed at least 40 people near Baghdad. The target was a shrine venerated by the Shia, considered heretical by many conservative Sunnis.

Before July had reached its mid-point, nearly five dozen others died in three attacks around the capital: one at a fruit market, the second at a police checkpoint – both in Baghdad – and the third 70 kilometres north of the capital in Balad. The killings were due to a combination of suicide bombings, mortars and gunfire.

Among those killed in Karada was 34-year-old Fareed Behnam, a Christian originally from the Nineveh Plains to the north of the country, an area overran by jihadists two years ago.

Fareed’s name wouldn’t have stood out, had not Christian presence in Baghdad so depleted that each new loss particularly counted.

As for Baghdad’s once full churches, some had already been bombed a number of times over. Now the empty buildings are a screaming depiction of today’s reality: only a handful of Christians left. They are tired.

“Little groups gather in the big church buildings while other buildings remain empty: there are simply not enough people,” World Watch Monitor learnt from an Iraqi source just back from visiting Baghdad this August.

“Most Christians in the city are there because they have no other choice. They are too poor to leave or not physically able due to sickness or old age,” added the source, requesting anonymity for security reasons.

“Once Baghdad’s churches were full of people,” said the source, pointing to broken roads, garbage everywhere and a plague of cockroaches in a city which has been neglected for the past 13 years.

“It seemed like I wasn’t in a city, but in a prison,” the visitor added. “Many buildings were surrounded by high concrete walls for protection, and soldiers and checkpoints were everywhere. Around every corner you expect a bomb explosion.”

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