Radical jihadists have forced over 100,000 thousand Christians from their homeland in Iraq with the chaos increasing for many more in the country. The conditions for those who remain are deplorable, and those left behind feeling hopeless.
Islamic extremists continue to kidnap, kill and pillage villages. ISIS fighters shelled the town of Qarakosh last year forcing 40,000 Christians to evacuate during the assault.
Since the attacks by terrorists, there has been a decline of Christians in the country, a reported half a million believers left, The New York Times cited. Believers are second-class citizens and have been targeted by extremists for a decade, and over time decreased to an estimated four percent.
Christians can trace their history over 2,000 years back to the apostles. As Christianity grew people coexisted for years with other religions. About 4.5 million Christians lived in Iraq, according to International Christian Concern, and it dropped to 1.5 million in 2003. Today , it has fallen to less than 200,000.
People feel lost and are looking to start life again, but question how this can be done? The government is not helping, only the non-profits and churches are hearing their cries, and pleas for help. In Bartella, ISIS tore apart the community, and Bernan Petros and his family escaped. They left their money, and all belongings behind.
“There is no hope in this country. We have no hope here. We are so tired of this situation, and now we are thinking of leaving--all Christians together, to seek another place in Europe. Without my money, how can I make plans? Everything I had is under the control of ISIS,” Petros shared with the local media.
Sacred Heart Assyrian Church is taking in the displaced families. They currently are hosting 70 families in tight quarters with limitied sources.
But displaced Iraqi Christians are also coming into the US. A group fled to San Diego, California, but were jailed for entering the US illegally.
A group of 27 Christian Iraqi’s are being held at Otay Detention Facility for illegal immigrants since the fall of 2014.
“These aren’t people who just decided to cross the US-Mexico border,” Mark Arabo, a spokesperson for the Chaldean community told The San Diego Union-Tribune.
“These are people saying, ‘we have nowhere else to go.’”
Some believe it's a war on religious freedom as a whole.
“We must realize that this is a war being waged against religious freedom, not just Iraqis. It is a war to drive out those who don't adhere to the radical beliefs of ISIS or other extremists,” International Christian Concern wrote.
“How many more fathers, sons, husbands and brothers need to be kidnapped and murdered before we stop turning a fearful blind eye to atrocity?”