11/04/2022 Iraq (International Christian Concern) – In 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) invaded Mosul and the cities of the Nineveh Governorate, the most religiously diverse part of Iraq, where most of the country’s Christians historically reside. ISIS’ invasion displaced hundreds of Christian families, and as a result, many of them settled in Baghdad in and around a building in the Zayouna district, now known as the “Virgin Mary” Refugee Camp. A new shopping center is being built in this area, and the people residing there were served with orders to move out and evacuate by the end of the year.
Mosul once had a large Christian population, but due to decades of severely violent persecution, the population had largely dwindled. When ISIS gained control of the city in 2014, that was the final straw for the future of Christians in the city. Although ISIS was declared militarily defeated in 2017, most Christians refuse to return home to Mosul. Such is the case for many of the Christians who reside in the Virgin Mary camp.
Discussions about the future of this camp have been ongoing since 2017, with various results. Iraq’s government, on which one side remains unpredictably fluid, overall does not want to see any more Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps within the country. On the other side, families have nowhere to go, and particularly in a city like Baghdad, the security situation has become quite challenged in recent months.
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