Christians Face Exclusion in Iraq Reconstruction Plan

Jan 31st, 2017 | By | Category: News Posts

William J Murray points to destroyed business in Christian town of Qaraqosh, Iraq

An alliance of UK-based charities has warned that Christians are being excluded from reconstruction plans for Northern Iraq once the Islamic State has been defeated there.

According to World Watch Monitor: “Iraqi Christians firmly believe that Iraq is their spiritual homeland; their presence dates back at least to the 3rd Century. Before 2003, there were approximately 1.5 million Christians in Iraq, but estimates now range from 200,000 to 500,000.”

After the US invaded Iraq in 2003, many Christians fled Baghdad for northern Iraq, where some towns had been almost 95% Christian, such as the town of Qaraqosh. At the time of the Islamic State’s capture of Mosul in June 2014, estimates report that only 3,000 Christians were left out of the 35,000 that originally lived in the city.

A coalition of 16 UK charities complied an 88-page report entitled Ensuring Equality, that says it’s “clear” that leaders of religious minorities are being excluded from the National Settlement plan being put together by Iraq and other regional powers and later will be presented to the UN.

Babies of Iraqi Christian refugees fleeing the Islamic State need diapers – Please help!

The report stresses that it is imperative that Christians and other minority populations have support for their political and security concerns so they can feel reassured enough to return to Mosul and other towns on the Nineveh Plain and rebuild their communities and “undertake any reconciliation process.”

The report states that part of the reconciliation process “must include full citizenship status and the rebuilding of churches and community centers.”

The report adds: “All the NGOs involved in this report state that the vast majority of Christians and other ‘minorities’ avoid UNHCR camps and facilities because of continuing discrimination and persecution… It is utterly unacceptable that a place of sanctuary should be a place of fear that repels those it is designed to save and protect.” The report points out that those who stay away from UNHCR camps “have fared… unequally in the allocation of international aid, funding, political support, media attention and asylum placements.”

World Watch Monitor reported: “The report urges the UNHCR to scrap its ‘need not creed’ approach and acknowledge minorities’ particular experiences. It calls on the UNHCR to open more mobile registration units to enable asylum-seekers outside UN camps – who tend to be non-Muslims – to register. It also urges the UNHCR to employ more non-Muslim registration and security staff, and translators to reduce discrimination against non-Muslims.

The report also recommends that the Balkan states that have expressed a desire to take Christian refugees as part of their “EU allocation” should be helped to do so. “At present this is being undermined by pressure and threats from Germany and the dead hand of political correctness,” it claims.”

Open Doors, a charity that advocates for Christians in the Middle East, along with others, produced a detailed report on the vital contribution that Christians make in Iraq and Syria. According to World Watch Monitor, the report’s coordinator Rami* (name has been changed) said: “We need recognition for the vital role of the Church in rebuilding and reconciliation… Maintaining the presence of Christians is not only about them; it is for the good of society as a whole. In the reports and research we’ve conducted, we have mapped, in a way, all the contributions Christians have given to Iraq.”

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