Tags / iraqi christians
During the days of terror on Mount Sinjar, about 200 women were kidnapped by the militias of the Islamic State to be converted to Islam and sold in the occupied cities of Mosul and Tal Afar. This barbarism is not new to the chronicles of war.
The Islamic State's attack on Mount Sinjar led to the exodus of about 500,000 people, mostly from the Christian, Yazidi and Shabak minorities. These refugees, currently under the protection of the Kurdish militias, are living in the streets, under bridges or in abandoned places in Erbil and surrounding villages. Many of those who manage to escape the conflict have suffered losses in their family that effect them not only economically, but mentally and emotionally. Depression and anxiety in addition to insecurity are a constant challenge.
The UNHCR anticipated there to be over 900,000 internally displaced people in Iraq by the end of 2014. With the rise of ISIS, that number has been more than tripled, with 2.9 million displaced according to International Displacement Monitoring Center. The situation of internally displaced women, not only in Iraq but in conflict zones around the world, is especially precarious as the breakdown in social structures is a risk factor for gender-based violence. In their planning document for 2014, the UNHCR says it is ramping up its efforts to protect refugee and internally displaced women. However, agencies like the UNHCR as well as local associations can only care for and provide aid to so many displaced people, leaving others to fend for themselves.
The condition of the women and children displaced in Iraq is tragic: not only from a material point of view, but also from a psychological and ethical perspective. While talking with them, the elderly were crying because they don't see a future for their land, culture or traditions and were continuously asking, "What did we do wrong to deserve to be killed?" The women were mostly passive, trapped between emotions, tears, the inability to react, “deafened by pain and suffering.” They seemed to understand that as time passes by, the hope of returning to a normal and fair life fades away.
Following an ultimatum issued by ISIS, there was a Christian exodus from Mosul. The houses and churches they left behind have been seized by Sunni extremists. ISIS has locked the doors and put signs of Islamic State ownership on the buildings left by the Christians.
23 July 2014
After the city of Mosul fell under the control of the Sunni tribes and ISIS, Christians have become very afraid of what action ISIS might take against them. ISIS released a document stipulating that Christians in Mosul had three options, converting to Islam, paying a special tax, or being executed. Those who did not comply to the terms had to leave the newly formed ‘Islamic State’ and all their possessions were confiscated by ISIS. Almost all of the Christian community fled the city in terror and travelled to Erbil and Duhook where they slept in churches.
The video shows two cars carrying a family that arrived from Mosul today after passing through an ISIS checkpoint where their money, jewellery, and car were taken from them.
Abu Youssef, the first speaker, explains their trip from Mosul. However he, along with the priest, refused to appear in front of the camera out of fear that they would killed should they ever return to the city. They were also afraid that their homes in Mosul would be destroyed or burned down if they were seen on camera saying negative things about ISIS.
Due to security reasons, we were not allowed to film the hall on the lower level, where families are staying, or where the kitchen and sleeping spaces are. However, we were allowed to take footage of one room that included a family with special needs (disabilities) and to meet with them and ask them about their situation in their new home.
Abu Youssef: Father of a Christian family that just moved out of Mosul
Father D. Meti: The priest in Um al-Nour church
Abu Reem: Father of an immigrated Christian family
After bombings in Qaraqosh, the Iraqi government has decided to evacuate the entire town. About 5,000 families have taken refuge in the city of Erbil, where schools and sports centers have been made available by local volunteers and aid organizations.
A major city for Christians in Iraq, Qaraqosh fell to ISIS shortly after the latter's conquest of Mosul. Residents of Qaraqosh were reportedly terrorized by ISIS, who took Sharia law into their own hands, lashing one man for selling cigarettes, and killing several women found guilty of adultery. The city later suffered heavy bombardment during fighting between ISIS fighters and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.