Financial support for Iraqi Christians
The Baptist World Alliance has sent an initial sum of US$20,000 to help Christians displaced inside Iraq
Funds given by the BWA will be used to help provide food and other urgent relief supplies to approximately 500 Iraqi Christian families who fled Mosul and Karakosh to Irbil city in Kurdistan state.
Christians fled in haste without their possessions, including clothing. Money, jewellery and other valuables were stolen or confiscated.
A sum of US$90 is needed for mattresses, blankets and a two-week food supply for an average family of six people. Baptists and other Christian groups providing assistance expect the need to last through several months.
Mosul, Iraq's second largest metropolitan area after Baghdad is an ancient city in Northern Iraq that has had a significant Christian presence going back almost 2,000 years. Karakosh is in close proximity to Mosul.
Problems faced by Iraqi Christians escalated in June this year with the Northern Iraq offensive, when the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), sometimes referred to as the Islamic State, and aligned forces, began a major offensive in Northern Iraq against the Iraqi government. The same protagonists attacked Kurdish-held territory in Northern Iraq in August.
Christians and other minority religious groups have been specially targeted by ISIS. A decree was issued in July that all Christians in the area under ISIS control, including Mosul and Karakosh, must pay a special tax of approximately US$470 per family, convert to Islam, or leave. It was later announced that all Christians needed to leave or be killed.
Many Christians have fled to Kurdistan.
Christians have been leaving Iraq in droves after the 2003 United States invasion of Iraq. Violence against Christians by radical Islamist groups rose dramatically, including abductions, torture, bombings and killings. Christians were pressured to convert to Islam under threat of death or expulsion, and women were ordered to wear Islamic dress.
By 2007, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimated that 2.2 million Iraqis were displaced to neighboring countries such as Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, with a large majority being Christian. Another two million were displaced internally.