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05/25/2021 Iraq (International Christian Concern) –  Historic churches in Iraq are battered by the harsh environment and years of conflict. Yet is the continued government negligence that leaves them crumbling, deteriorating, and therefore potentially disqualified for even the UNESCO Tentative List of heritage sites.

Al Aqiser church sits southwest of Baghdad in Ain Tamr. The 1,500-year-old church has been allowed to crumble to bare walls. Under Saddam Hussein the area was converted to a military firing range, while harsh heat and rain and a lack of funds keep locals from being able to protect the ancient church.

The town of Nippur in southern Iraq faces similar issues. Bandits reportedly looted much of the region after Saddam Hussein’s fall from power, followed by ISIS jihadists. Sections of Kirkuk province of central Iraq are home to other crumbling sites, including a 3,000-year-old citadel.

Areas that were once flush with jobs from U.S. archeological digs, now eagerly await an economic upturn that may never come. A lack of infrastructure makes it nearly impossible for tourists to visit the historic sites. Roads need repaving and electricity runs on old lines inconsistently. Temperatures soar over 122 degrees Fahrenheit, made worse by hard rain. Limited federal and local funding requires that funds be spent on more urgent items. And Iraq’s historic churches fall by the wayside.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: [email protected].