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12/16/2018 Iraq (International Christian Concern) –  Amnesty International has released a new report describing how the Islamic State (ISIS) used a scorched earth policy to devastate rural Iraq. This tactic, combined with the campaign to retake areas under ISIS control, destroyed entire towns. Many of these areas were home to religious minorities, particularly Christians and Yazidis.

According to the report, only 20% of these farmers currently have access to irrigation. Before ISIS, two-thirds of these farmers had irrigation access. The report also notes that 75% of all livestock was lost and that the agricultural production in these areas is reduced to an estimated 40% lower than pre-ISIS levels. While rural poverty already existed before ISIS, the new levels of poverty remains concerning. The report notes that ISIS used rural poverty and resentments to advance across the region, and warns that something similar is possible again.

Meanwhile, ISIS continues to plague pockets of areas in Iraq. Alleged militants continue to be discovered in the Nineveh Plains on a regular basis. ISIS continues to pursue regular activities in the area just south of Qaraqosh, a predominately Christian city destroyed by the militants. Reconstruction and security challenges serve as a significant barrier for religious minorities displaced by ISIS.

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