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Iraq: Christians call for internationally protected safe zone to enable them to rebuild after ISIS rule

Almost all of the Orthodox Christians in Iraq were displaced during the period of war and strife that began early in the 21st century. Even at this point, most of them are still refugees and have been unable to return home. Many don’t think it is safe to return even though ISIS has largely been driven out of the lands it once controlled. Shia “Popular Mobilization Units” have taken up where ISIS left off and are making life difficult for the Christians who survived ISIS’ reign of terror. That is why this internationally protected safe zone is urgently needed.

“Iraqi Christians call for safe zones as they struggle to find solace,” by Mina Aldroubi, The National, April 4, 2019:

Iraq’s Christians are calling for an internationally protected safe zone to let them rebuild their lives after the brutal rule of ISIS that threatened to end their 2,000-year history.

Although the Iraqi government declared victory against the terror group in 2017, Christians are continually targeted and caught in the middle of sectarian conflict, said Zina Kiryakos, president of the Iraqi Christian Foundation.

“We want an internationally protected safe zone to give the genocide victims the ability to rebuild and recover in Nineveh Plains with peace and security,” Ms Kiryakos told The National.

Iraq is home to a variety Christian denominations, a representation of the country’s religious and ethnic diversity.

But the damage done to Christian enclaves on the Nineveh Plains, east of Mosul, after their capture by ISIS has been so extensive that it has become difficult for minorities to exist in peace.

The Iranian-backed militias mobilised to fight ISIS, also known as Hashed Al Shaabi, have against the will of local Christians taken over the liberated Syriac towns of Qaraqosh and Bartella, and the Chaldean town of Karemlash in Eastern Mosul, Ms Kiryakos said.

“Many Christians living in Nineveh Plains are fearful of returning to their homes in those areas due to the Shiite militias taking over their towns,” she said.

The militias are trying to take over the Nineveh Plains to make a road for themselves from Iran to Lebanon, passing through Iraq and Syria, Ms Kiryakos said.

The US, whose forces helped Iraqi troops to defeat ISIS, and the Iraqi government have rejected the idea of a safe zone….

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