( Fr. Joseph Varghese, IRFT Newswire)

On August 6 last year, Islamic State militants launched an overnight offensive on Christian towns and villages in the Nineveh Plains of Iraq. By the morning of August 7, around 200,000 Iraqi Christians had been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan. One year on, the situation of these displaced Iraqi Christians is one of hardship and endurance, yet they are thankful for the Lord’s provision through their Christian brothers and sisters around the world.
Islamic State militants forced Iraqi Christians to flee

Islamic State militants forced Iraqi Christians to flee

The Christian presence in the Middle East is under acute threat. In 2003, the Christian population in Iraq stood at 1.56 million whereas today there are fewer than 300,000 Christians remaining in the country. In Syria, at the beginning of the conflict, there were around two million Christians, but over half a million of these have been forced to flee their homes with no hope of returning.  
Christians in the city of Hama and its surrounding villages are fearful in the midst of recent attacks against this strongly Christian area. The city of Homs, too, is experiencing fierce fighting after Islamic State advanced across parts of the city in recent weeks. The conflict, now in its fifth year, is estimated to have taken the lives of 230,000 people, including many children.
In Aleppo, many Christians are determined to remain despite the persistent danger from the almost daily explosions and bombings. With such elevated insecurity, the city is often without electricity, water and internet connections. Some basic commodities are so expensive they are unaffordable to most people. Many people have lost their jobs and some have been forced to close their businesses; they now have no income at all. While some choose to remain, others simply do not have the means to flee.